Friday, 22 February 2013

Song For Marion falls short of the high notes

One for the ‘grey pound’ crowd, Song for Marion has terminal illness, pensioners singing about sex, and families being torn apart and brought back together.

What is most interesting is that this is from director Paul Andrew Williams, the man who brought us savage (but not brilliant) home invasion thriller Cherry Tree Lane and prostitute on the run from pimp drama London to Brighton. Working again on a low budget, Williams has also again written the script and directed Song for Marion. For anyone who has seen his previous films, this turnaround is a bigger shock than anything he has ever mustered despite the grimness of his previous work.

Marion (Redgrave) is terminally ill but refuses to stop participating at her local seniors' choir, despite her miserable husband Arthur’s lack of enthusiasm. Lovely choir leader Elizabeth (Arterton) spices things up by getting the pensioners to sing heavy metal, rap and even take on Salt N Pepa’s Let’s Talk About Sex for  an upcoming choir competion. Marion’s health deteriorates, and Arthur must endure a bitter journey of self-discovery in order to come to terms with life without Marion.

Vanessa Redgrave is wonderful as Marion and while Terence Stamp has the best and most interesting character in grumpy old git Arthur, he fails to make the most of it, not hitting the emotional high notes that are needed from a script like this. In fact despite the fantastic work of Gemma Arterton and Christopher Ecclestone (as Arthur and Marion’s son), once Redgrave's Marion sings her final song, the rest of the film gets a bit flat.

I was fortunate enough to attend a special screening of Song for Marion at the Curzon Mayfair where the film was followed by a Q&A with directorPaul Andrew Williams, star Terence Stamp and producer Ken Marshall. From their answers, it emerges that Song for Marion was a very personal film for many involved. Stamp speaks of second chances and Williams argues what makes his film stand out from the recent Quartet that also featured an elderly cast and singing.

I give the film 2/5 but I really don 't think I'm the target audience. If you're 50 or above or a massive fan of Stamp then give it 3/5 as I'm sure you will enjoy it more than I did. It's a shame as with a slightly better lead performance and a less conventional story, this could have been something more special.

Song For Marion is out now in the UK. Watch the trailer below:

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