When I first read about this story (which I hadn't known until a few weeks ago) I thought that it could make for a terrific film. I'm afraid that except for the final intensely moving minutes, it largely left me uninvolved, even rather cold.
The true story is of one-time, big screen star, Gloria Grahame (played by the wonderful Annette Bening - not looking much like the original, though that shouldn't get in the way) in her late 50s and towards the end of her life, falling for an amateur English stage actor of half her age, well played by Jamie Bell. Their romance begins in California 1979 and two years later she, while on an acting engagement in England, rather than stay in a hotel, decides to move in with Bell's family in Liverpool - a family including the conspicuously bewigged Julie Walters, who is required to give not much more than a one-note performance as the mother. (We recall Bell and Walters appeared together in the original 'Billy Elliott', the film on which the musical was later based). The action here keeps shifting (a little annoyingly for me) between 1981 and 1979 and back again numerous times.
You might guess that tender moments of love-making between the two main characters are interspersed with tumultuous rows, she taking repeated umbrage at any slight hint of his, however innocently expressed, that she might be a bit on the old side. She is clearly mentally fragile - and, as it turns out, not just mentally.
The whole viewing experience felt a bit constrained for me, despite the range of emotions demonstrated, particularly by Bening. It just didn't grip me to the extent I'd hoped. It's also one of those annoying films where much is spoken so sotto voce that I didn't have a clue what they were talking about - and when that goes for the two main actors it doubly surprised and disappointed me.
I've not seen any of director Kevin McGuigan's previous films, and after this one his is not a name which will by itself entice me to see further productions of his.
I only first became aware of Gloria Grahame herself on seeing 'Oklahoma' (1955) in which she hopelessly 'over-cookied' her character. Later I caught up on some of her previous more famous b/w films from an era when she was rightfully feted. But after the 1950s her significant film parts were few, and her rather more numerous bit-parts in numerous TV roles were not solid enough to make a lasting impression.
As I say, I wasn't aware of this particular story being played out at the beginning of the 1980s, though I suppose that by then Grahame's name had so faded from public consciousness that it wouldn't have been a major news item to generate more than a modicum of interest.
I feel I ought to point my rating of the film upwards for the single reason that Annette Bening really does give it her all............6.5.
22 minutes ago