When London based architect Adam (William Hurt) is given an award that usually signals the end of a career, he's horrified. At the same time, his wife Mary (Isabella Rossellini) gets an unexpected health scare and with help from best friend Charlotte (Joanna Lumley), makes a dramatic change of course - and finds herself in furious conflict with Adam. Their three adult children devise ways to keep them together.
Review by Louise Keller:
The enticing presence of John Hurt and Isabella Rossellini offers much promise in this film about a couple in their golden years. But while it aims to be funny and charming in equal measure, this drama about coping with the inevitable restraints and realities of getting older, trips up on its good intentions. There's a plodding, condescending feeling about Julie Gavras's film, with one-dimensional characters and a disappointing script, even though the older target market will smile knowingly at some of the references.
After three children and a lifetime together, Adam (Hurt) and Mary (Rossellini) are struggling to cope with their changing circumstances. Having made his name designing airports and unfashionable projects other architects did not want, Adam is despairing at having been asked to design a retirement project, as he tries to avoid old people at any cost. Lucky for us, he can't avoid his fiery mother-in-law Nora (Mantle); Mantle is the film's liveliest presence, spitting out one-liners about grandchildren as Scrooge might about Christmas.
After a memory-lapse scare and at the advice of her doctor, Mary as she approaches the dreaded Six-0, takes her doctor's advice to exercise and keep her mind active. Sandwiched between fitness junkies she finds the aquarobics class tough going, but it is the condescending tone spoken to the charity volunteers that delivers the fatal blow.
As Mary fills their home with walking frames and old-age aids, Adam moves out, sleeping at work on the new museum design project he has begun. There are predictable scenarios as both Adam and Mary have highly unbelievable adulterous flings and the quandary of their three grown up children, who try to implement a parental reuniting strategy, is played for laughs. I did like the scene at the art exhibition opening, when Adam and Mary use sign language to convey their thoughts and feelings. It reminded me of one of Hurt's many great performances playing opposite Marlee Matlin's Oscar-winning deaf pupil in Children of a Lesser God (1986).
The intermittent moments of magic are stifled by a clumsiness and lack of pace. Even the irrepressible Joanna Lumley as Mary's friend cannot cut through the haze.
Published First in the Sun Herald
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LATE BLOOMERS (PG)
CAST: Isabella Rossellini, William Hurt, Joanna Lumley, Simon Callow, Kate Ashfield, Luke Treadaway, Leslie Phillips
PRODUCER: Bertrand Faivre, Sylvie Pialat
DIRECTOR: Julie Gavras
SCRIPT: Julie Gavras, Olivier Dazat,
CINEMATOGRAPHER: Nathalie Durand
EDITOR: Pierre Haberer
MUSIC: Sodi Marciszewer
PRODUCTION DESIGN: Eve Stewart
RUNNING TIME: 89 minutes
AUSTRALIAN DISTRIBUTOR: Palace
AUSTRALIAN RELEASE: February 23, 2012