Friday, 22 February 2013


BFI Preview:

Also want to add more thoughts from a second viewing at the BFI:
This time I came away feeling it was an exceptionally poignant film, full of so much 'deep and meaningful' on so many personal (for all of us!) levels with some absolutely gorgeous profound performances in it. This is MUST SEE! It could be a surprise really big hit of 2013! Many others at this preview thought so too. And there were many tears and much laughter from the audience.

Terence Stamp attended the preview. He plays the protagonist Arthur. Asked afterwards about his experience of performing in the film he told us a little story about how he had been trying to find "it" in performance many years ago and since... in Song for Marion he went into each shoot "empty" - then working with, especially Venessa Redgrave and Gemma Arterton, "it" came out of him! It being that feeling/those feelings - that maybe you can't put into words, but are the essence of true acting... of true emotional expression. He went in knowing his lines and with nothing else planned, and came out with total magic committed to celluloid. (He did also say he loved the script on first viewing but didn't think he was ordinary enough to play Arthur!) I haven't seen all his work, but yes what he produced was extremely emotive!

Vanessa Redgrave was also amazing and real. In one scene she sings Cyndi Lauper's 'True Colours' to Terence.

LFF Preview:

(Rated 3/5 film/script... 4.5/5 performances.)

I expected Song for Marion to be a comedy along the lines of Rock Choir for OAPs - resembling the level of comedy and song performances of the likes of The Full Monty. I had been entertained by the OAPZ - the choir of elderly people in the film - themselves, for about 5 hours,  as an extra on the film. They were absolutely brilliant in both comedy and musical performance. But the tone of the actual film is somewhat different. There is far more poignancy and somewhat less comedy.
The film follows grumpy pensioner Arthur (Terence Stamp) - addicted to not enjoying himself - and his relationships with his wife Marion (Venessa Redgrave), who is suffering from cancer, and their son James (Christopher Eccleston). Arthur and James are estranged - we are told Arthur was not a good father - whilst the love between Marion and her son is clear and warm. Marion enjoys singing as a member of the OAPZ, who are led by cheery conductor Elizabeth (Gemma Arterton). Arthur refuses to join in and is hostile towards Elizabeth and Marion's other choir friends, even in their support of his wife. The film goes on to explore Arthur's relationship with Elizabeth as she tries to help him 'de-grump' {my word} and find his voice and his heart.
That said Arthur, as played by Terence, clearly has a great heart - just keeps it safely closed, resembling the rock Marion describes him to be.
Vanessa Redgrave is outstanding as ever! She blows me away with her ease of emotional expression and natural ability in character inhabitation. Meanwhile Terence Stamp moved me to tears - both in what he was expressing and what he was holding back. I have never experienced a closed-off, cold character pull so much at my heart strings. I have to say he genuinely did too when I witnessed him singing for the film. My response as an extra was not forced at all! However it seems it ended up on the cutting-room floor. Christopher Eccleston is also very good indeed as a mirror to them both. He IS their son. Only slight flaw is he lost the accent now and then, but otherwise a beautifully reflective portrayal. Gemma Arterton also did very well with what she was given as a character. I did feel, though, her character was the one who most showed up the lacking in the script - it was a little basic compared to the power of the other three. 
Writer/Director Paul Andrew Williams has given us a lovely, sensitive film and I really felt it came from his heart inspired by his own grandparents. For me his writing and direction lack a little in clarity and impact - but his professional actors understood what he wanted to convey and did the job superbly. I just wish there had been a little more of the OAPZ to enjoy, but I will buy the soundtrack and DVD!

Song for Marion – Review by TheRestrictedReviewer © 2012
Twitter: @RestrictReview