Unfinished Song Reviews

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Super Reviewer
February 5, 2013
When singing enthusiast Redgrave passes away, her insular husband, Stamp, reluctantly joins her vocal group as they prepare for a national choir contest.

The plot may seem at the outset little more than "'Pitch Perfect' for pensioners", and will likely be marketed as such, but 'Song For Marion' is by no means a laugh out loud comedy. There's a tender drama about reconciliation, growing old, and facing death wrestling the more commercial choir-contest story-line with the early scenes between Stamp and an unrecognizable Redgrave resembling a gentler take on 'Amour'. The veteran pair are fantastic and, unfortunately, the film loses something once Redgrave exits the proceedings.
Every few years, the British film industry discovers a new market and proceeds to over-saturate it. Ten years or so ago we had a spate of films aimed at Britain's huge Asian community and, recently, thanks mainly to the success of 'The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel', we're seeing film-makers cater for an audience that's become known as "the grey pound". Most of these films, however, focus on elderly people behaving like young people, little more than contemporary non sci-fi takes on 'Cocoon'. It still seems to be a cinematic taboo to show old people as they really are, wrinkles and all, if you will.

'Song For Marion' suffers from an awkward juxtaposition of comedy and drama and relies on a cliched story-line but its quality cast make it watchable. The moment when Redgrave sings Cyndi Lauper's 'True Colors' to a disgruntled Stamp, despite the cheesiness of such a premise, manages to be one of the most touching moments you'll likely see this year.
February 16, 2014
Nicely done for a sentimental love story. One wonders how much it would be better if Arthur could have realized his own shortcomings earlier.
August 1, 2013
It only looks contrived and formulaic, but give Unfinished Song a chance and it warms its way into your heart. Terence Stamp shines as grumpy old Arthur Harris, who bitches endlessly about his wife Marion (the always amazing Vanessa Redgrave) participating in a choir. Marion has cancer, so Arthur thinks she should just relegate herself to being home and forget about everything else, even her grown son (Christopher Eccleston) and granddaughter. But Marion carries on with her passion at her rehearsals run by Elizabeth (Gemma Arterton), a young babe teaching retirees the joys of rocking out to 'Let's Talk About Sex' from Salt-N-Pepa. Its Glee meets The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel.

You may be cringing but hold on. Written and directed by Paul Andrew Williams, Unfinished song is no warmed over Glee. That show doesn't have the fortune of having Stamp, 74, and Redgrave, 76, part of its cast. These two acting legends are at the top of their games, and breathe real feeling and life into this sometimes stale script. The two almost teamed way back in 1967 for a big screen take on the musical Camelot, but Stamp wasn't sure he could ace the singing. But you hear Stamp's voice in Unfinished Song and think 'Bravo'. His is a wonderful voice, especially when singing Billy Joel's 'Lullaby (Goodnight My Angel).

Stamp turns in an award-caliber performance as a grumpy introvert on the verge of becoming forever stoic. It's a performance filled with subtlety and nuance, a superb performance. And Redgrave matches him nicely, bringing warmth and wit to a role a lesser actor may have played for cheap schmaltz. Just listen to her rendition of Cyndi Lauper's 'True Colors'. The most astonishing thing Stamp and Redgrave accomplish is their way of portraying a lifetime of marriage without lazy flashbacks. There's a line in the film that a singing voice's real power comes not from its technique but the journey. Stamp and Redgrave personify that journey beautifully. They will leave you in awe.
July 22, 2013
Unfinished Song is the type of film one has to say they liked because if they didn't it would appear as if he/she had no heart. It is a rather shamelessly sentimental film filled with all kinds of cliches about an old married couple played wonderfully -- the acting is what elevates this film -- by Vanessa Redgrave (Howard's End) and Terence Stamp (The Limey). She enjoys music and performs with an unconventional senior's choir that is rehearsing rather heavily in hopes of competing in a national singing competition in spite of her frailty and health (she has apparently just overcome some extensive cancer treatments). It is what makes her happy and so her curmudgeonly husband reluctantly allows her to continue. As the competition nears, he is encouraged to join the group by the young choir director (Gemma Arterton - Hansel & Gretel) in order to express himself and spend more quality time with his wife. The couple also has a grown son (Christopher Eccleston - Jude) who has a rather rocky relationship with his father who has never been able to relate to him. There are no real surprises here and it is rather by-the-book with how it portrays its characters when compared to other characters in other movies in similar situations. It is a gentle film about coming to terms with aging ... with a musical backdrop. The choir numbers aren't the best (this isn't Pitch Perfect) but the film is more about life and loving one another than it is about music itself. Some of the song lyrics used here are rather poignant -- True Colors is a great song -- and it does warm the heart even if the film is predictably formulaic. This is the second "old age choir" film I have seen lately and while I enjoyed Quartet more (it was more polished and I appreciated the humor in that film) I still was able to appreciate what was onscreen here. Redgrave glows and Stamp glowers like few others.
July 21, 2013
It was a good way to kick off the end of a long dry spell at the arthouse. Although it was about as predictable as a dance step floor chart. But then again, so is the track of mortal life. All of the common ploys to sentiment are locked, loaded and aimed squarely at you, but it still works well overall. I dare you NOT to feel sad enough for your eyes to moisten even a little. Stamp really did shine here, what a lovable grump. And I had no idea he could sing! I wouldn't consider this a comedy at all, but there were a couple lol moments...seeing them cover Motorhead? AND they didn't suck at it? Come on, that was pretty cool... Though their Salt N' Pepa cover was a bit much to sit through...especially since they're a choir, they get to rehearse, many, many times...meaning you get to hear them sing "that" song over & over! Ok, alright already, we get it! You're trying to pander to younger people by singing a song which is an oldie to young people...picking what is now an oldie to appeal to younger people...shows you how out of touch they are, but in a way that makes it all the more endearing. I wish I could have a beer with Terence Stamp, he just seems so cool. I thought I recognized that younger chick: she was in Hansel & REGRETel last year, wasn't she?
February 11, 2013
Here's the thing. The plot is formulaic and predictable. It gets sickeningly sweet and sentimental. But. This is still an adorable movie nonetheless. I think the acting really elevates the slightly better than average script. Vanessa Redgrave and Terrence Stamp are wonderful, their scenes together are great. Gemma Arterton and Christopher Eccleston also are great as the choir director and the couple's son, respectively. Honestly, the movie in general is nothing to write home about, but it's great for a Netflix night in.
November 20, 2014
I liked it! :)
However, I cried a lot...
August 13, 2014
Superhärlig och hjärtlig film om glädje och sorg, ensamhet och gemenskap, bitterhet och kärlek. I like!
August 6, 2014
a bit sappy and sentimental. it's sweet, but there's not a lot going for it.
July 27, 2014
A sentimental journey about it never being too late to change, family relationships and growing old.
April 3, 2014
Excellent acting from a very experienced cast. Arthur's true love of many years is terminal, he has a dysfunctional relationship with his son and is in the beginning unable to cope. This is a heart warming tale that warms the heart and fills the eyes width tears of sorrow and happiness. A movie to truly enjoy with one's family.
½ March 16, 2014
Another good small British drama. Overtly sentimental but not too sweet.
January 31, 2014
nominated for three awards-Best Actor, Best Screenplay, and Best Supporting Actress-at the 2012 British Independent Film Awards
June 29, 2013
January 10, 2014
Enjoyable but ultimately rather cliched. The main characters are believable and likeable but the happy ending is contrived and not particularly convincig.
½ January 5, 2014
this is an amazingly beautiful love story...it pulls at your heart with the truth of family and love. I am so thrilled to have selected this to watch and consider the story and lesson a gift.
½ December 17, 2013
I honestly don't remember why I put this flick on my Netflix queue. Maybe it was because I'm a Star Wars nerd and Terence Stamp (The Adjustment Bureau) played Chancellor Vallorum in the much maligned, but overhated Episode I. Or perhaps it's because Gemma Arterton (Hansel & Gretel: Witch Hunters) - who should have been cast as Wonder Woman in the almost guaranteed to fail 'Batman vs. Superman' - also features among the cast. Regardless, besides one glaring inclusion of a song by the awful Canadian diva, Celine Dion, the movie is quite charming. In addition to the very amiable Stamp and Arterton, Christopher Eccleston (G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra) and Venessa Redgrave (Anonymous) also give great performances. It's very touching, but not overly sappy. There are certainly worse ways that you could spend an evening than watching this heartwarming flick.
November 3, 2013
Motoko and I were wiping tears throughout the whole movie, though I went through a lot more kleenex than she did.
October 5, 2013
The thing with old people movies is that it tends to be about death and stuff. But Redgrave and Stamp elevates this movie into new heights. While Redgrave's character dies midway, it's really about the devotion and the celebration of life that give the movie a positive note. It's cheesy and full of shameless sentimentality... but it a good way.
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