Unfinished Song: movie review

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How the geriatric ensemble dramedy became the last bastion of British cinema is a bit of a riddle, but like Cadbury Creme Eggs and Manchester soul, it doesn’t seem to be going away anytime soon. This latest iteration closely follows the Mrs. Henderson’s Best Exotic Calendar Girls template, with pensioners shaking off their cobwebs via uncommon means—in this case, singing age-inappropriate pop hits at the community center under the tutelage of a pretty young instructor (Gemma Arterton). Cancer-stricken Marion (Vanessa Redgrave) becomes so taken with the group that even her grumpy old homebody hubby, Arthur (Terence Stamp), can’t keep her away. Eventually, he also finds his voice—onstage at a competition, naturally.

If you’ve long wished to witness Redgrave interpret Cee Lo’s “Crazy” or Motörhead’s “Ace of Spades,” the wait is over; ditto any craving for an elderly minstrel take on “Let’s Talk About Sex,” complete with do-rags and cockeyed ball caps. That such incongruities come across as harmless says something for the undercurrent of sadness that director Paul Andrew Williams sustains amid the sight gags and set pieces—as well as a lot about the indiscriminate generosity of these performers. It may be the equivalent of NBA stars tossing crumpled paper into a wastebasket, but you’re no less compelled to watch old pros go through the motions.

Follow Eric Hynes on Twitter: @eshynes

Release details

Duration: 93 mins

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