Friday, February 13, 2009
How About You. Feature film. (2007, 100 mins) IMDB
quiet film with a small cast of eccentric characters. Although it's an Irish film, it's set in England and stars British actors including the famous and unstoppable Venessa Redgrave. Has she ever given a bad performance? And, how many actresses envy her career? I suspect there are a number of actresses who would love to have her longevity. In 1995 at the age of 58, she starred in the feature film A MONTH BY THE LAKE where she plays a love interest. How many actresses can say that? Not many.
But I should comment on this film.
The film opens with Bobby Darin singing HOW ABOUT YOU and it sets the tone. I know many classic songs whether sung by Armstrong, Fitzgerald, Cole, Sinatra, Crosby, Bennett, Krall and, unfortunately, a small canon by Darin, but this isn't one of them and it's completely different from Sinatra's version from the 1940s. This upbeat song invites you into this comedy and I loved it. Later we hear Fitzgerald sing HAVE YOURSELF A VERY MERRY CHRISTMAS and we want to listen to that voice. So clear. So strong. The third song has Nat King Cole sing LET THERE BE LOVE.
I mention these songs, not just because I like them, but because it's unusual for any film from Ireland or the UK to feature well-known American standards. It's partially a cultural issue, but it's also a money issue. I'm sure the producers had to pay some large dollars to get the rights to use these songs in the film.
Anyway, how about I mention the story. There is a narrative. Ellie is a wandering young woman who returns to her sister's home seeking support and shelter and reluctantly it's given, but since this isn't a typical home, the older sister runs a retirement home in a large old house, Ellie is given a uniform and vacuum cleaner and put to work. She reluctantly gives in. She cleans and cleans some more and gets to know some of the residents. All old. All a bit miserable and demanding and nearly impossible to deal with.
Act II is about an improbably scenario. It's Christmas and most of the staff and residents have gone away to be with family. This includes the older sister. Ellie is left behind to care for four residents who are a pain the in the butt. The arc of the story is how she gets them to lighten up, be less miserable etc. By the stories end, these five have come together as a new family. They cook a giant Christmas meal.
It's all a bit trite, and sentimental, too feel good for some, but it works for the most part. We do get to know them and want to watch them. There are even secrets revealed, regrets voiced and we wonder what other secrets, what other regrets there might be.
Posted 2009/02/13 at 16h54ET in Movie Commentary.