Movies are increasingly pitched at the 12-24 age group these days, so it's nice to see that those of a certain age are still being catered for. In the last year British cinema has delivered The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel, Quartet and now, Song for Marion, but would be it be wrong to say that some of the movies could appear ever so slightly patronising?
Terence Stamp is in grumpy old fart mode as Arthur, an OAP who doesn't care for the local singing troupe led by Gemma Arterton (She's in busy body 'don't smoke/cheer up' mode hersef). He believed the troupe has stolen his wife, Marion (Vanessa Redgrave). Marion has cancer and Arthur thinks she should be home resting, not out making a fool of herself 'in front of all those people.' He grumbles about her choice to keep singing, about his mechanic son Christopher Eccleston and about the fact that Marion won't make the upcoming Shadowsong Choir Festival. He's especially grumpy about Arterton's insistence that he should take his wife's place.
Song for Marion is a twee effort from Paul Andrew Williams, who has the searing London To Brighton and the rough home invasion thriller Cherry Tree Lane on his CV. There are elements of Song For Marion that work: With his slouched shoulders, shabby coat and frayed shirt collar, Stamp cuts a believable figure in a lived-in role. There are fun a capella versions of Ace Of Spades, True Colours, Love Shack and Let's Talk About Sex. It's all rather soft and harmless and nice and makes me look like a curmudgeon (again) for pointing out its failings and condescending attitude.
Like the horny Billy Connolly in Quartet, there's an air of 'they're old therefore what they say is funny'. Oh, they still have sexual desires - that's so cute. To his credit, Stamp's Arthur refuses to play ball but the movie presents him with only two options - be made a fool of, as he sees it, or live a sad and lonely life. The inevitability of it all doesn't help either: there's the expected 'oh, that's saucy' and raised eyebrows when Let's Talk About Sex is suggested and we're consistently just waiting for Stamp to stop grumbling and warm to the choir (dubbed 'OAPz') and his son.