This is the kind of film the British are famous for, with good reason. They do it very, very well.
The faultless Imelda Staunton stars as Sandra, an upper-middle-class wife of a newly knighted senior police officer. When she finds husband Mike (the always reliable John Sessions) in flagrante with a piece of work from the tennis club, she leaves him. Sandra decides to seek shelter with her sister, Bif, from whom she has been estranged for 10 years, and who lives a carefree, bohemian life with her council flat and her bicycle. Bif is beautifully portrayed by Celia Imrie (ever the sister or the best friend…!). Sandra is introduced to Bif’s circle of equally bohemian friends, played by Johanna Lumley, David Hayman and last, but never least, the incredible Timothy Spall.
It’s a tale told oft: rekindled sibling relationships; loosening up of the bourgeoise stays; finding yourself whilst finding love. This film is a bundle of predictable cliches. And yet, it is this very predictability that makes the film so comforting and warm and delightful. One thing that isn’t so cliched, though is the portrayal of “young” old age. These boomers are dancing, travelling, shagging each other and living in funky digs. Aging is given the respect it deserves here, without the deference that is often thinly disguised condescension.
Screenplay by Meg Leonard and Nick Moorcroft is tight, witty, moving and articulate. Director Richard Loncraine knows how to work with these actors, and has mainly just gotten out of their way and let them do their job.
This is a totally enjoyable, adorable gem of a film, with a strong message about life and death and ageing.
As Bif says to Sandra “It’s one thing being afraid of dying: it’s quite another being afraid of living.”
Finding Your Feet opens tomorrow.