Film companies and distributors have hit on a demographic with ready money and lots of leisure time: the retired and elderly. The King’s Speech, Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy, The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel, Quartet, and now Song for Marion, have all pulled in money from a group of people that for a long time the big companies thought weren’t interested in cinema. I think this is a very positive thing: the more people who go to the cinema the better.
Song for Marion isn’t the best of the bunch, but it’s still a lovely, well-made drama with a great central performance from Terrance Stamp as the partner of a cancer-suffering wife (a moving performance from Vanessa Redgrave). She sings in the local community choir (run by a chirpy Gemma Arterton), but he cannot understand her love for singing. But the title gives away all you need to know: a grumpy old man will have to overcome his nerves and sing a song at a choir competition for his family, for himself, for his son and granddaughter. It’s all pretty cute and very predictable, but it’s done with such heart and passion it’s hard to feel any animosity towards the film.
The most interesting thing about it is where it’s come from. Paul Andrew Williams directed the harrowing thriller London to Brighton, one of the most effective and memorable British films of the past ten years. Since then he’s concentrated on grisly, gory horror movies, including The Cottage, Cherry Tree Lane, and the story for Tom Shankland’s excellent little horror The Children. To see him directing something as safe, sweet and warming as Song for Marion is quite a surprise. Though there isn’t that much to it, Williams has shown what a remarkably versatile talent he is. Now that really is something to cherish.
Song for Marion (2012), directed by Paul Andrew Williams, is released in the UK on 22 February, Certificate PG.