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|Finding Your Feet|
dir Richard Loncraine
scr Meg Leonard, Nick Moorcroft
prd Andrew Berg, Meg Leonard, Nick Moorcroft, John Sachs, James Spring, Charlotte Walls
with Imelda Staunton, Timothy Spall, Celia Imrie, Joanna Lumley, David Hayman, John Sessions, Josie Lawrence, Marianne Oldham, Sonny Fowler, Sian Thomas, Indra Ove, Victoria Wicks
release US Jan.18 psiff, UK 23.Feb.18
Reconnecting sisters: Imrie and Staunton
|R E V I E W B Y R I C H C L I N E|
A contrived British rom-com, this movie is just about watchable thanks to an above-average cast and some nice settings. But not much about it works, from the achingly predictable script to the corny slapstick. Even so, since it centres on a group of middle-aged characters, it has an original slant that provides a little spark as it encourages the audience to take a leap of faith.
At the peak of her posh society life, Sandra (Staunton) discovers that her husband Mike (Sessions) has been having an affair with her close friend (Lawrence) for five years. Stunned, Sandra moves in with her estranged big sister Bif (Imrie), whose working-class London life is rather alien. Bif introduces Sandra to her friends at dance class, including Jackie (Lumley), Ted(Hayman) and Charlie (Spall), who sold his house to care for his wife (Thomas), who suffers from advanced Alzheimer's. All of them help Sandra recapture her youthful curiosity for life.
Director Loncraine removes all of the edges, so the movie is a bland and cute little romp. Even when the script touches on darker issues, it feels sweet and simplistic, tipping over occasionally into sentimentality. But it looks great, with a nice range of somewhat random London geography from leafy Hampstead to leafy Little Venice. Yes, aside from Bif's cluttered council flat, the settings are all rather affluent, including the fancy all-expenses trip these amateur dancers win to Rome.
Thankfully, the actors bring even these cliched characters to life. Staunton maintains a sharp sense of Sandra's frustration that her perfect life has been upended, so even as this contrives to give her back her youthful joy, she brings a nice combination of likeable pathos and inner spark to the role, plus terrific chemistry with the excellent Spall and Imrie. All three of these characters have resonance that goes far beyond the script, simply because the actors add so much depth to them.
This is the kind of warm, friendly film that engages audiences in search of comforting entertainment. But with more honesty and insight in the script, it could have been both funnier and more thought-provoking. There are gentle swipes at the privileged British middle class, but it's more comical than pointed. And the entire dance subplot feels badly contrived on just about every level (Staunton is a West End musical star, after all). But if you can suspend your cynicism, it's enjoyable enough.
|R E A D E R R E V I E W S|
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© 2018 by Rich Cline, Shadows on the Wall
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