A marvellously insightful portrait of male emotional reticence lurks within an otherwise doggedly conventional feelgood drama in this change of pace for writer-director Paul Andrew Williams (‘London to Brighton’, ‘Cherry Tree Lane’). He puts two cash-strapped pensioners at the heart of this film, and it proves one of his smartest moves. It allows a first-ever on-screen pairing for actors Terence Stamp and Vanessa Redgrave, and it puts genuine mortality at stake when illness jeopardises her role in a community choir for senior citizens. Redgrave is affectingly bright and breezy as the lively granny determined to make it to a national choral competition, while Stamp digs in as the grumpy other half who’s scornful of her activities. He’s not one for joining in anything.
Fate – and formulaic plotting, needless to say – has other ideas. But even though we know where the film’s going, it still manages to give the tear-ducts a workout. That’s in spite of a lumpy sub-plot involving estranged son Chris Eccleston, who’s too like his old dad to get on with him, and some toe-curlingly contrived acapella pop (Motörhead! Salt-N-Pepa!) from the assembled oldies. Williams’s better instincts are on display, however, when offering ailing Redgrave a heart-shredding solo number, and also in his attuned writing for the curmudgeonly hubby, whose tender side only his wife sees. So often framed as an icon of patrician cool, Stamp touchingly allows us to share the vulnerable feelings behind those chiselled cheekbones and still-azure eyes, drawing on his own humble roots to deliver a career-highlight performance. And that, surely, is worth singing about.