|Index||8 reviews in total|
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
Julie Gavras, the daughter of Costa Gavras, the famous French director of Greek origin, was noticed for the qualities of her first movie 'La faute à Fidel !' (2006), a witty coming of age story dealing with the negative repercussions of political involvement on family life. Her second effort in the area of feature films is entitled 'Late Bloomers' and although it proves a notch below 'La faute à Fidel!', this comedy with an edge partly confirms the young writer- director's talent. Her new film, which could be called a "coming of old age story", concerns a couple of people turning sixty. On the one hand meet Mary (Isabella Rossellini), a retired teacher who, wishing very hard to be ready for old age, decides to keep ahead of her future condition and to force this attitude on her husband , trying to make him the diminished person he will become later. On the other, there is Adam (William Hurt), an energetic architect who tends to ignore the weight of years and takes on a new project which may be too big for him. In any event, Adam gets so fed up with his wife's radical approach to old age that he ends up leaving her. But no need to worry too much, this is a comedy and a happy ending is in store for this pair of young/old terrible lovers. As she had already proved in "La faute à Fidel", Julie Gavras has a knack for tackling a serious unsettling subject in a light tone, thereby "helping the medicine go down', as another Julie (Andrews) would have sung. And there is value added in 'Late Bloomers' compared with this first opus since this time the film was made in London, in the English language, with a stellar cast and sparkling dialog. Nobody can say no to witty lines delivered by the delicious Isabella Rossellini, the always reliable William Hurt, the vivacious Doreen Mantle, and many others including 4x20 year-old Leslie Phillips, all excellent. In that context, the first half, a clever mix of biting one-liners and relevant observations on the aging process, borders on perfection. Unfortunately the second half shifts into lower gear as Julie Gavras wastes her time and ours with the stale old trick of boy-leaves-girl-but-still-loves- her-while-behind-the-scenes-others-jockey-to-reunite-them. The final fifteen minutes more or less make up for it but as the saying goes, time and tide wait for no man. All things considered, 'Late Bloomers', although part of it leaves to be desired, remains a satisfying film experience, that will in turns make you laugh (Doreen Mantle's nasty lines ; Simon Callow joyously epitomizing the first attacks of old age through a memorable motto: 'Growing old is not for sissies!' ; and many other eccentricities) and grit your teeth (black humor about becoming old, having to retire from your job, feeling the nearness of death, best summarized by one of the last shots of the films where Rossellini and Hurt in a cemetery look at grave, say "We will be the next to come", embrace each other and finally lie down on the tombstone like two young lovers in the grass). A mix of happy and cruel moments, a faithful reflection of life itself, that is what 'Late Bloomers' can be in its inspired moments.
Great actors can make or break a movie. In this case they make the
movie. A very light one, about getting old (as is suggested in the
title of course). Still it's not like it is offering everything easily
on the table and lets you have whatever it is you want. But the fact
that it is shot digestible, makes it easier to watch.
And I. Rosselini (who was present at the Berlin International Film Festival, where the movie played) makes a good team with William Hurt. Both have problems (or issues) and try to resolve them. You might feel more for one of them based on your gender, but the good thing is, that it is not too black and white. Will certainly not appeal to people who like their movies to be fast, but if you like a good drama, you could do a lot worse than this ... :o)
Late Bloomers sounds like a good idea: a film about growing old, treated with humor. A director with a well-known name Gavras and actors such as Isabella Rossellini and William Hurt. The ingredients are all there and yet the final dish is unappetizing. What has gone wrong? I saw the movie at a special showing in London, with Ms. Gavras present. The theater Cinema Lumière, at the French Institute - was absolutely full. After ten minutes, I knew it was going to be a struggle to stay to the end. Nobody was laughing. On screen, what should have been rapier wit turned out to be blunderbuss jokes. The approach was obvious and the humor was primitive, to say the least. Isabella Rossellini is Hurt's wife. She realizes one day that they have become, well, old. And she starts a campaign to minimize the effects of old age: she has handicapped kit installed in their bathroom, she buys for her husband a telephone with large, easy to see buttons, etc. This is supposed to be very funny. Worried that the suffers minor memory losses now and then, she follows her doctor's indications and goes to water aerobics, where lots of people in a swimming pool jump up and down, following an instructor's indications. She is out of step and jumps up when everybody else is jumping down. Again, supposed to be very funny. The whole film suffers from "in your face" attempts at being funny, which it ain't. When it ended, we had been told Ms. Gavras the director would appear on stage to answer questions and talk about the movie. Half the audience left the theater in a hurry, including my wife and me. We talked to a few of the people leaving the place and they all told us "It was bad enough to watch the movie who wants to talk about it?". If only somebody like Woody Allen had directed this
LATE BLOOMERS (dir. Julie Gavras) A rather tepid film concerning the emotional problems of growing old. William Hurt and Isabella Rossellini play an extremely rich married couple who question what they have done with their lives, and now that they are approaching sixty, time is running out. I find it difficult to empathize with people who have so much money, influence, and power, but feel that something is lacking. They certainly have more than the vast majority of humanity, yet they continue to fret. Why should I care? Of course, many are anxiously concerned if Rob Kardashian will actually make a commercial success of his new line of socks.
Adam (William Hurt) is an architect struggling to find money for his
latest project. He refuses to accept his aging. While his wife Mary
(Isabella Rossellini) is trying to adjust. They are not getting along.
And the grown kids notice the friction.
It's not a particularly lovable couple. That's my first impression. Nothing in the movie changed that impression. And the ending rang hollow. It felt like it came out of nowhere. I'm not sure if this was supposed to be funny. At least, I didn't get the humor. Rossellini fumbling with her pool noodles was head scratching. The movie really needs somebody with comic timing either in front or behind the camera. This movie had neither. I wish this was a better movie. The two great lead actors deserve a better movie. It just never gel. They really never got the chemistry right.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
Late Bloomers is about aging, about coping with growing old, about
getting close to the Big Six-Zero. I confess being in love with
Isabella Rossellini since I realized that Ingrid Bergman had a
daughter, and seeing this film I just realized that this story about
people getting close to 60 and having a hard time accommodating this
reality speaks to me a lot because I am also getting close to 60. So is
my liking this film also a sign of age? Maybe, but then my favorite
actress and his wonderful partner in this film William Hurt are also
part of the same generation as I am, so we are all aging beautifully
and making fun by making movies or watching movies about getting close
to 60. Life is good!
There is a wonderful scene in this film that resumes it all and explains why the film works. The two heroes (he is a formerly famous architect, she is a formerly dedicated wife) decided to separate temporary as part of the aging crisis. They meet at the opening of the art exhibition of their younger son, one of these noisy events taking place in an over-crowded gallery with loud music that kills the reality of sounds and light effects that distorts the reality of visuals. They are far away, they can hardly see each other, they can hear nothing because of the loud music. They need not any of these, as with their looking into each other eyes and a few gestures they can tell each other what happened in the weeks or maybe months since they had separated. These weeks and months are nothing compared to the more than thirty years spent together, and no separation can cancel their love, and no words are needed to communicate.
Of course, the scene relies on the wonderful acting talents of Rossellini and Hurt. So does the whole film. Director Julie Gavras (yes, the daughter of ...) received in her hands a script that has a very Woody Allen look, with just an extra touch of sweetness or less cynicism. She decided to put apart or minimize many of the side themes or characters (like the dilemma of the architect faced with a project which maybe exceeds his own capabilities, the agonizing of the three grown-up children of the couple faced with the risk of their parents separating after a life spent together, or the secondary romantic stories which are neglected to the point of making the two characters who enter in relationships with the heroes just pawns in the action) and focus on the coming to the third age story, with all its sweet and bitter consequences. The result is pretty charming, and this is due mainly to the superb acting and to the very inspired music score. Late Bloomers is not a masterpiece, but a minor movie that succeeds to generate genuine emotion, and not only make the audience feel good. Almost unknown to the audiences, hardly distributed, ignored by critics (only five reviews mentioned by IMDb one year almost after the first screenings at the Berlin Festival!) this may prove to be one of the best ignored films of 2012.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
I watched this movie because I like William Hurt. Too bad the movie
wasn't up to his usual standards. The whole premise of the movie was
silly... two well-off people living an upper class life having an
unconvincing crisis about getting old. Whatever age they were trying to
portray, only a neurotic would consider them "old" IMHO.
The triggering event occurred when the wife couldn't remember how she got to the hotel. Because of that she has a cat scan and the doctor gives her some vanilla advice about fitness. Pure piffle. The memory lapse seemed most unremarkable as did the doctor's advice. Just weak and silly.
What really turned me off was William Hurt's performance. In the beginning he didn't need any accent coaching because all of his lines were just short growls and grunts. In later scenes he was actually trying to do some indistinguishable and unconvincing British accent. That was too much... end of movie for me. A waste of time for both William Hurt and me.
We were very disappointed in this film. We chose it because of Julie Gavras' father (Costga-Gavras), who made the very special "Z." Although we did not think that a director's ability would be genetic we did hope that some of her father's bravery and awareness would be available to the daughter. How wrong we were. The movie has just about zero social content. At times it seemed to deal with aging and a man's difficulty in staying current in his profession (architecture). Yet Hurt seemed to be cold and uncaring and the people in his family never confronted him on this. He assumed the role of a stiff, unemotional man with great ease because relatively little is called for in this role. I was fairly well bored by his character. At other times the movie dealt with a woman aging and feeling that she was becoming less attractive. She tries to do something about her sagging flesh, then gets discouraged, then gets active again. Just as we are about to be drawn into this drama the film became a family burlesque before shortly turning again as the main characters drifted apart and then drifted back together again, without explanation or further character development. William Hurt and Isabella Rosselini deserve a better film with a better script and a more mature director. The film seems thrown together, rather poorly edited, and concludes abruptly with what seems like a capitulation to the American audience. The pleasures in this film are too few and too far between. Woody Allen's "Whatever Works" covers much the same ground with much more intelligence, good humor, and plenty of laughs.
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