At a home for retired musicians, the annual concert to celebrate Composer Giuseppe Verdi's birthday is disrupted by the arrival of Jean (Dame Maggie Smith), an eternal diva and the former wife of one of the residents.
Cissy (Pauline Collins), Reggie (Sir Tom Courtenay), and Wilf (Sir Billy Connolly) are in a home for retired musicians. Every year, on October 10, there is a concert to celebrate Composer Giuseppe Verdi's birthday and they take part. Jean (Dame Maggie Smith), who used to be married to Reggie, arrives at the home and disrupts their equilibrium. She still acts like a diva, but she refuses to sing. Still, the show must go on, and it does.Written by
This is the sort of film I normally strenuously go out of my way to avoid: the feel-good movie, especially the feel-good movie (Billy Elliot comes to mind) in which characters find "redemption" and "meaning" through Art. As a rule, the Brits do this kind of film much better (Brassed Off, the Full Monty) than Hollywood (no examples I would care to cite, I haven't had my breakfast yet); this is a hybrid, being a British written and produced movie, with an American director (Dustin Hoffman) making his directorial debut at the tender age of 74.
So, why did I go to see this? "The Big Yin", Billy Connolly, of course. I dote on the man: all it takes is an imitation (and I believe that every single British comedian, of either gender, has one) to make me smile. So, aye, I knew at some point I was going to have to see this, and I am happy enough to have seen it on the big screen (there, I just did one). The acting from the entire cast is, of course, first rate; how not, when the cast is headed by Maggie Smith, Michael Gambon, Pauline Collins, and the great Tom Courtenay? With all respect to my main man, Billy Connolly, Courtenay's performance is what drives the picture; I'm old, and this man has been appearing on screen since before I was even born. We are talking some serious actor's chops here.
As for the story, it's just one of those: "will they get the Gala on stage and save this wonderful home, where they can be themselves and inspire future generations?" What do you think? I can't say that I noticed the direction, one way or the other: I suppose you would have to categorize Dustin Hoffman as an "actors' director", which is what's called for in a film like this. For me, the best part of the film was the end credits, where the actors' names were accompanied by head shots from when they appeared in opera companies and symphony orchestras way back in the day.
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