Just as well that I wasn't expecting great things from this film, because no great things is precisely what it delivered. However, I was sorely in need of a cinematic experience to dilute the memory of 'The Shape of Water' which had so impressed me - not in a good way.
A 'comedy-romance' (with weepie moments), this is another of those oldie-orientated British films that have become a bit of a vogue in recent years, though here it's more late-middle-age than 'oldie'.
Imelda Staunton leads a cast of stalwart British actors as the wife of an affluent and titled husband (John Sessions) whom, she very publicly discovers, has been having an affair for five years. In a rowdy scene she ups and leaves him and their upper class life, moving in with her down-to-earth, substantially less well-off sister (Celia Imrie), living in a pokey, ramshackle, north London flat. Contrasts in attitude abound, Staunton finding it hard to shuffle off her airs and graces and condescending attitude to all and everyone around her - until she learns the 'correct' way to live through harsh yet loving words of advice from big sis.
An acquaintance (Timothy Spall) lives on a canal boat adjoining that of his best friend (David Hayman), both of them attending adult dancing classes (hence the film's title) where Staunton is enticed to come along, and where she and Spall gradually melt towards each other. So far, so unoriginal! Also in the class is Joanna Lumley in a very bitty role - no more than the odd sentence or a few words now and again throughout the film. There are one or two pleasingly sharp exchanges in the script, I must admit.
It's curious, considering the film's release date here, that the central section of the film is set very prominently at Christmas time, giving it a slightly anachronistic quality, a bit odd for February.
One thread of the drama is that the dancing class is invited to do a public performance - in Rome, of all places! - though in this case at least they're not trying to win a competition.
The personal angle is mainly in the burgeoning relationship between Staunton and Spall - and there's also a very deeply emotional event which made me wince a little.
I was surprised to find that the matinee screening I attended in a large cinema was almost packed out, mostly by the 'grey brigade' (amongst whom I'd count myself) - so word must be getting around. The general audience reaction seemed to be that they enjoyed the film a great deal more than I did. I think it needs one to be prepared to let go of one's expectations, hopes and inhibitions, and just go along with the flow, something I always find hard to do, especially when it's something as unashamedly sentimental as this.
Director Richard Loncraine's only notable successes to date have been the indifferent 'Wimbledon' of 2004 and the rather better-received 'Richard III' (with Ian McKellan) in 1995. I can't see 'Finding Your Feet' adding much sparkle or longevity to his list of accomplishments..................5.
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