How About You... (2007)
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We come into this milieu where a four of the residents don't have a place where to spend Christmas. It is Ellie, the young sister of the woman that runs the place to stay behind to take care of this quartet. When she doesn't get anywhere with them, she lets them all know how she feels about their rudeness and ill manners. Instead of angering them, she rouses them up and make them come to their senses.
The foursome consists of Donald, the retired judge, who must have things his way. Georgia, the former showgirl who loves her martinis in a certain way. The bickering sisters Heather and Hazel Nightingale complete the group. When Ellie explodes and tells them truths they haven't heard in a while, they wake up to reality. Thus, for the Christmas dinner, Ellie decides to take the residents to a nearby town to get the ingredients. Together, they will have a great time and come together in ways no one even thought possible.
Anthony Byrne directed the film, which is based on a Mave Benchley short story. He couldn't have asked for a better cast, Vanessa Redgrave, Joss Ackland, Imelda Staunton and Brenda Flicker are seen in the major parts. They are joined by Hayley Atwell who is perfect for the role of Ellie.
This film will appeal to audiences of a certain age who will appreciate the nuances in the story and will certainly enjoy the magnificent cast chosen to bring it to life.
This overlooked holiday movie gives us some fairly memorable characters, sort of like Grumpy Old People who are stuck in a nursing home during Christmas. The young, pothead caregiver watching over them goes from apathetic to ticked off when they pull their curmudgeon routines on her.
The acting is good, atmosphere and cinematography are spot on, the whole production is as good as any large budget feature. The characters get developed during the movie, from the young girl learning to live her own life and accept some responsibility, to the old folks who learn that they can live a little while they are waiting to die.
There's a lot to like in this movie. It has some genuine holiday spirit and a decent ending. It's hard to say why more people haven't seen it because it is worth watching.
Hayley Atwell (The Duchess) plays Elle, the black sheep of the family, who shows up unannounced at the private retirement center her big sis owns. The home is struggling due to the rude behavior exhibited by four of the residents played by Brenda Fricker and Imelda Staunton (as sisters), Vanessa Redgrave (a former performer who longs for the spotlight again) and grumpy, lonely widower Joss Ackland (from the EverReady Bunny commercials, and for his line "Diplomatic Immunity" in Lethal Weapon 2). These four don't much like each other and certainly don't care for any others. Until ... you guessed it ... Elle reminds them what living is all about.
Must also mention a terrific supporting turn by Joan O'Hara, who brings a little wisdom and a twinkle in the eye to Elle. Sadly Ms. O'Hara passed not long after filming. I really thought Ms. Staunton stood out for her interesting portrayal of the co-dependent sister with a dark family secret. Well, at least it is dark for this film, which again, just doesn't dig too deeply into anything.
A message film with the simple message that loneliness should be avoided and don't stop living until you have taken your last breath. The title song is played at least 3 different ways in the film.
The film centres on the relationship between a young girl left in charge of an old people's home run by her sister. Sweet, funny moments occur, although many are predictable and overdone. The characters transform themselves far too swiftly, so the film loses in credibility. It is, nonetheless, a pleasant watch and an agreeable alternative to typical American romantic comedies.
Redgrave and Staunton deliver excellent performances as usual, but this film definitely wasn't a challenge to either. Atwell (the younger sister) was very much lacking in subtlety, although the fault may lie with the director or writer rather than the actress.
How About You should be watched as a fun way to wind down the day, but not as an example of Vanessa Redgrave and Imelda Staunton showing what they're truly capable of.
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The story is achingly maudlin and predictable, and the dialog is corny and phony - like a sappy Lifetime TV movie larded with profanity, in which consuming cannabis is the magical solution to every problem. It's stupid.
And the song! I never hated "How About You?" until I had it force-fed to me by this movie. Sung in its entirety first by Bobby Darin over the opening credits, THEN by Redgrave in a pub; a brief ragtime version by the young sisters on a piano; and again by Redgrave and an unseen chorus at the finale. That's more than enough for a lifetime.
The director is a moron. He not only has the talent and esthetic sensibility of a soap opera hack (every stupid point he is determined to get across has to be repeated ad nauseam, to make absolutely sure that NOBODY will NOT get it), but has some kind of fetish for things drifting down out of the sky.
He has snow falling while everything is green (including the ground, where the snow evidently melts on contact, although it sits forever on actors' hair) and dead leaves drifting thickly down at Christmas-time although there's absolutely no wind to pluck them off the trees. That does not happen except in this idiot director's imagination. Trite and heavyhanded metaphors for death, maybe? Who knows. Or cares.
This dumb, irritating movie is only for folks who are either fascinated or terrified by death. People get old, they fall apart, and then they die. So what? It happens to everybody. It's happening to me now. It's perfectly natural and good, except to people in strong denial, who believe if they do everything the doctors tell them to do THEY won't die; which, of course, is a lie.
So I advise skipping this stupid movie, unless you have a death fetish that won't allow you such freedom. The only good thing about it is getting to LOOK at Redgrave, who gets more beautiful with each passing year. What a marvel she is! If only she hadn't had to say such relentlessly stupid lines she single-handedly would have made this movie worth watching.
The residents behave like children, launching food and plates across the room, hurling insults at one another and throwing their toys out of the pram when they don't get their own way. Apparently, this is all supposed to be funny. It isn't.
This was, in my view, a very poorly directed movie (I mean, it is supposed to be snowing heavily in one scene and yet there is no snow anywhere on the trees or ground). I didn't like it at all.
The early death of Alice is a mistake. She represents the heart of the movie. The story feels like it has to restart after her death. It takes awhile to recover the heart. The comedic turns from the four veteran actors feel clunky. Their emotional drama feels perfunctory. Alice has a great line and should die later on to jump-start the climax. These are great actors and they have some drama to play out. However it's all rather structured and unsurprising.
The story is set in Ireland, a single lady has used her inheritance to buy her home with a larger "retirement home" building next to it. She has perhaps a dozen or so residents, older men and women who can get along fine but prefer living there to living on their own. They each have a private room, and there is a large common room for dining and relaxation.
The "problem", as it were, are a nucleus of 4 residents who virtually never leave the premises and who also have become jaded to the point where they make other residents unhappy. Some residents have actually left because of these and it seems that the retirement home is barely making enough money to stay in business. If it closes down, the 4 may not be accepted anywhere else.
Hayley Atwell is Ellie Harris, the younger sister of the retirement home owner. She has come to ask her sister for a place to stay, and a job, so that she can save enough money to take a long trip with her boyfriend and others. Ellie has some rough edges, is young and impetuous, but when their mother becomes ill and her sister has to leave right before Christmas, Ellie is pressed into service and put in charge. All the other residents left to visit friends and relatives for the holidays, but the 4 grumpy residents remained for Ellie to deal with, which was quite a handful.
A nice, smaller movie, a good diversion on a Friday night and reasonably good entertainment.
SPOILERS: After a couple of days of dealing with the crotchety 4, and trying to accommodate their whims, Ellie gets fed up and reads them the riot act. She points out how difficult they are, how they might cause the home to be closed down, and all that results in a renewed "family" atmosphere.