On the side of my neighbor’s house are 2 vines that have been there since I moved into my place. They started out small and separate from each other, barely poking out of the ground. As the years passed the vines grew, inching their way up the bricked wall. Then one year the two vines crossed paths, suddenly and unexpectedly. It was as if they went on a date where they shared stories about themselves. From that first contact the two vines were inseparable as their leaves multiplied into a growing family. The bricks became less visible the more the couple grew old. And I do mean couple since they took care of each other whether it was a stern icy wind trying to knock them off the side of the house or intense hot sunlight turning their leaves brown and dry. The two vines supported each other with affection and kindness. They were my elderly couple living right next door and they represented the same qualities that I believed should be in every loving relationship. I have mentioned previously my ideal description of two people who are together. They stand shoulder to shoulder supporting each other through good and bad times. Each one encourages the other, loving them unconditionally with honesty and respect. This type of groundwork allows the relationship to be strong, so any of the hardships that life throws their way can be handled with dignity and courage. In turn this makes for a solid and committed relationship. I have seen such relationships besides those that appeared the same until a secret revealed a crack of doubt. SOON to celebrate his 45th wedding anniversary Geoff Mercer, played by Tom Courtenay (Quartet, Doctor Zhivago), received news that a woman he had a relationship with years ago was found frozen in the Swiss Alps. The news not only had an affect on him but on his wife Kate, played by Charlotte Rampling (Melancholia, The Duchess). This film festival winning, Oscar nominated drama was an ideal showcase for Charlotte and Tom to flourish with their acting abilities. With Geraldine James (Sherlock Holmes franchise, Gandhi) as part of the cast playing Lena, this was a movie that did not have much action taking place on the outside; the story was more internalized by the characters, think of it as being more cerebral. Not only did I feel the direction was beautiful, I thought the cinematography was wonderful. Certain shots were held longer so the viewer could watch the characters act without speaking a word. This was what I consider an adult film because the story dealt with issues that affect a more mature crowd. Charlotte and Tom truly were brilliant in their roles; for all things considered they were this couple who were about to celebrate their anniversary. I felt I had known them as long as those 2 vines on my neighbor’s house, even with all those thorns and leaves that have weathered storms.
3 1/4 stars
Growing old is like watching a balloon expand with each breath, never knowing when that one breath will cause the balloon to pop. As my friends and I age, the subject of how we may need assistance in our old age comes up more often. It is particularly important to those of us who are single; we wonder what will happen to us. An idea we have kicked around is buying an apartment building, where we can all live. It would allow us privacy but we would always have someone close by if help was needed. In a similar situation this sweet movie was about a home for retired musicians. Idyllic days filled with music and singing, building up to the annual charity concert celebration, received a surprise interruption. It was the arrival of new resident opera diva Jean Horton, played by Maggie Smith (Harry Potter franchise, The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel). Her appearance was even a bigger surprise to her former husband and resident Reginald Paget, played by Tom Courtenay (The Golden Compass, Billy Liar). With the heavy weight of clashing egos, could the show survive and still be a success? For his directorial debut, Dustin Hoffman (Last Chance Harvey, Finding Neverland) did an admirable job in telling this safe, predictable story. I think Dustin’s job was made much easier by his impressive cast. Besides Maggie and Tom, there was Billy Connelly (Mrs. Brown, The Debt Collector) playing the flirtatious Wilf Bond, Pauline Collins (Albert Nobbs, Shirley Valentine) as the forgetful Cissy Robson and MIchael Gambon (Harry Potter franchise, The King’s Speech) as concert director Cedric Livingston. From the film’s entire cast there was a true sense of history behind the characters, that was proven at the start of the ending credits. An easy and enjoyable movie to watch. A thought came to me as I left the movie theater: When I take my last breath, I only hope it comes at the end of a movie’s credits.