Unfinished Song Reviews
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.
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.
However, I cried a lot...