Gemma Arterton is quickly becoming the go-to-girl for Hollywood producers who need to fill a space with a pretty face. Her eye candy roles in blockbuster films Clash of the Titans and Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time has allowed her name to become familiar on the US circuit. Arterton currently has five films in production beginning with the hotly anticipated Hansel & Gretel Witch Hunters along Jeremy Renner (Gretel) due for release in January of next year. Much like Keira Knightley’s transition to the US, her sweet nature and innocence seem to remain in the UK as she stars in another middle-of-the-road comedy which, unsurprisingly, is all about the journey of (that overused phrase) self-discovery.
Song for Marion centres on elderly grump Arthur (Terrance Stamp) and his wife Marion (Vanessa Redgrave) who is suffering from the late stages of cancer. To fill her days, Marion is part of an OAP choir run by Elizabeth (Arterton) that rehearses at her local community centre. Arthur supports his wife but finds it hard to connect with her emotionally. His strained relationship with his son James (Christopher Eccleston) doesn’t help matters much either.
It’s a different tack for director and writer Paul Andrew Williams who has previously made some violent British horrors such as Cherry Tree Lane and The Cottage. There isn’t much to shout about here and it was probably the pay cheque that was the only incentive to make this picture. The talent reveals that Redgrave clearly owns her role and overshadows the other three as the first half is all about her cancer battle.
As the focus of the narrative shifts to Arthur and his involvement with the choir, the film instantly gains some substance and steps up a level. However, this is only very slight as the tone of the film continues to be drab. The humour involves finding a group of elderly people singing “Let’s talk about sex,” hilarious. If you expect a bit better from the actors then Song for Marion will remain unsatisfactory. The “aww, look at the old people trying to be normal,” factor gets incredibly tiresome and is a running gag throughout the film.
Song for Marion is predictable and boring. It managed to muster two, maybe three laughs for the 90 minutes running time and, with the level of talent on offer, we expected a lot more.
Read more reviews from the 56th London Film Festival here.
Watch the trailer for Song for Marion here: