Saturday 28 July 2018

Trelawnyd Male Voice Choir singing Calon Lan at Parish Church, Prestatyn

Here you are, JayGee.  I took it down shortly after posting it, assuming that you must have already  seen it through another source. If you hadn't I hope it pleases you, Perhaps there might be a few faces you recognise, even if it is four years later (I think that a few may well have 'dropped off the perch' by now!) Pleasant viewing and listening.


Tuesday 24 July 2018

Film: 'Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again'

Well, what can one say? If it didn't quite come up to my hopes and expectations it was only by the slenderest of margins. The reasons why it was so, I think, was that despite this sequel/prequel boasting the wry verbal dexterity of Richard ('Four Weddings') Curtis who here is co-screenplay writer as well as co-story creator, it does try to fit an awful lot of story in. (Too much?). 

The young Donna (Meryl Streep's character in MM1.) is played by Lily James. We see her showing how she met each of the three possible fathers of her child, bedding each of them in turn. All the while in this flashback/fast forward scenario, the grown-up baby played, as in the original, by Amanda Seyfried, is moaning the absence of her now deceased mother from the party she's holding marking the christening of her own baby (husband,  Dominic Cooper once again). The story does attempt to give plausibility to the unlikely, though I did find it getting in the way of the songs, and it was the songs more than anything else which was why I'd wanted so much to see the film in the first place - as it was, presumably, also for just about everyone else. I didn't find the 'fault' of being overloaded so much in the first film, with the consequence that the songs there showed up in relief with greater ease. Of course it has to be the songs which carry the whole project - and what songs!

I acquired all the ABBA albums at the time they were released and so I was familiar with all the songs chosen for both films, a few of which here make a re-appearance despite having featured in the original, and it's always good to re-hear them no matter how many times. I did like the inclusion of less familiar numbers which hadn't been released as singles - in this new film we get the lovely 'Andante, andante' just as in the first film we had the marvellously evocative 'Our Last Summer', which always gets me to the verge of blubbing as I can readily associate it with my own 'discovery' of Paris in the early 1980s. (These two songs both appear on the 'Super Trouper' album, consecutively, I think.) 

Each of the younger versions of Pierce Brosnan, Colin Firth and Stellan Skarsgard (all present here to reprise their roles, of course) have their own songs, as do the younger Julie Walters and Christine Baranski characters.
Apart from the 'regular' cast (including a cameo appearance for a devastatingly beautiful song by Meryl Streep right near the end) there's Andy Garcia and - as you all know - one Cherilyn Sarkisian. (I was also pleased to see small roles for Celia Imrie and Omid Djalili).

The choreography is tight and the visual staging of the numbers, with their delivery, are perfection itself. I couldn't stop my legs from jumping to the beat, and I'm sure my heartbeat was dead-on synchronised too! Glorious stuff!

This is only Ol Parker's fourth feature film as director, his earlier efforts having failed to make significant impact. He was also co-writer of both 'Marigold Hotel' films. He does a good job in this film but I did find it ever so slightly more leaden than the first, which was directed by Phyllida Lloyd who'd made that one light and frothy almost right the way through (well, other than a couple of more serious interludes to provide 'shade' to the 'light'). Maybe it was due to this new one having a more explanatory story spelt out - though I think that for a musical we hardly expect realism and rationality down the nth degree.

Every few years comes along a film which I so enjoy that I pay good money to see it again in a cinema just a few days later. I did that for 'Mamma Mia 1', and the last time I did so was for 'Les Mis' in 2013. I will be seeing this one again, no doubt, though I'm not sure I'll be rushing back to buy another ticket so soon as I did before.

I rated the original film with an '8'. Ask me again in a few weeks time but to this one I'm going to give a slightly more qualified..............7.5. (Still wonderful, note!)

(IMDb.................7.3 / Rotten Tomatoes.........6.3 Boo hiss!)

Monday 23 July 2018

Film: 'First Reformed'

I can see why some might take against this film as being ponderous, over-solemn and with perhaps some gaps in the narrative. Comparisons have been made with Bergman and I think that's fair. I have to say that I was impressed while readily accepting that perhaps it caters for a niche taste, though there has been a welcome wide approval for it.

Ethan Hawke is a minister in an historic, smallish church of First Reformed (Calvinist) denomination somewhere in New York state, He has a sparse congregation of worshippers while his church is supervised by the nearby, much larger. well-attended church run by 'Abundant Life' organisation whose minister (Cedric Antonio Kyles) has concerns about the Hawke character's welfare, both mental and physical, mightily aggravated when he discovers that the latter has potentially serious body health issues.

But before all this is revealed Hawke has had a request from one of his small congregation (Amanda Seyfried - whom I'll be seeing shortly in 'Mamma Mia 2') to have a word with her husband who is unhappy about her pregnancy. When he does, the husband (Philip Ettinger) opens up about his environmentalist activism, having moved from Canada where he served time in prison for his campaigning. All this comes on top of Hawke's own buried uncertainties regarding his own internal struggles, and out of interest he makes a deeper investigation into the environment aspect himself, it eventually becoming almost obsessive, especially when he discovers that the boss of one of the area's leading industrial polluters is also a major donor towards 'Abundant Life' and through it, a supporter of his own church.

Much of the film deals with 'below-the-surface' emotions. Hawke has not only concerns about his own health but has surviving guilt about the failure of his marriage which had collapsed some time before.   

There is quite a lot of tension throughout the film (and my God, it really does take two or three extremely bleak turns) which includes a couple of brief but graphically violent scenes. In fact the suspense keeps on building until the final quarter hour or so when the tautness reaches well-near snapping point. Just before this happens there's a rather bizarre sequence, almost hallucinatory, which some may consider out of character with the rest of the film. If people can't make head nor tail of that short section they are yet more likely to feel unsatisfied with the manner of the film's actual ending, of which I'll say no more! 

It's a totally different kind of role for Ethan Hawke, here playing a man with internal struggles on several levels, a part in which I think he manages to convince. Amanda Seyfried was, in my opinion, exceptional in her smaller yet quite substantial role.

Although I knew the name of director Paul Shrader I was most surprised to find that I've seen none of his films since 'The Company of Strangers' of 1990. Before that he made 'American Gigolo' and 'Cat People'.

It's a film rather out of the ordinary - intriguing (though not without one or two exasperations) - one to linger in the memory more than most films, and definitely well executed overall.................7.

(IMDb................7.7 / Rotten Tomatoes............8.4)


Thursday 19 July 2018

Film:'The Bookshop'

In view of the preponderance of  unfavourable opinions of this film I had given up on thoughts of bothering to see it. Then today, with the final screening in this area, I spontaneously thought "Well, why the hell not?" I'm pleased I went as for me it wasn't anything near as unlikeable as others have found it. 

Based on the novel by Penelope Fitzgerald, who co-wrote the screenplay with the film's Spanish director, Isabel Coixet, it's set in 1959 in the fictitious, attractive, small English coastal town of Hardborough (exteriors actually filmed in Northern Ireland) where middle-aged widow (Emily Mortimer) wishes to open a bookshop using the premises of an old house which has a well-regarded and established history in the town. There's strong opposition to her plan, particularly from a wealthy, ageing, married lady (Patricia Clarkson) who fears the opening up of such a business will harm the character of the locality, and even when the shop opens to some success she'll not shrink from using her influence to have it closed down.
Meanwhile, a book-loving, single recluse (Bill Nighy) starts a correspondence with the shop owner, requesting particular books while she sends him works which she feels he may like or wants his opinion on them, which he's contented to do for her. Although their relationship doesn't go as far as a romantic one (they only meet a couple of times) it does skate on thin ice as regards sentiment, though remaining on the (for me) acceptably non-indulgent side - just.  

In the opening scenes I was thinking that the film was curiously static. Then, because of what I'd heard, I had to pull myself up as I realised I'd unconsciously been looking for 'faults' as if to confirm that it really was a 'poor' film. The penny dropped and I started looking on it as a gentle, unassuming film, and from that p.o.v. it worked much better.

Unfavourable comparisons have been made with 'Chocolat' and there are certainly a number of plot similarities. I couldn't claim that 'Bookshop' is superior or even the earlier film's equal but I do think it stands up well on its own. I'm happy to have made the effort.............6.5

(IMDb.................6.5 / Rotten Tomatoes.............4.9)

Tuesday 17 July 2018

Film: 'Adrift'

I know that this is based on a true story and all that (as in book by Tami Ashcraft)  but there's very little in this drifting-alone-in-mid-ocean story that we've not seen before. Problem is that once the situation is set up there's little original one can do with it, most of what happens already being fairly predictable. Tumultuous. towering waves - check; sail and mast broken - check; ship or two passes by without noticing - check; radio kaput - check; boat seriously taking on water - check; - though at least there's no predatory, man-eating sea-life this time!

The structure of the film is fairly unusual. It begins with Shailene Woodley ('The Fault in Our Stars', 'The Descendants') struggling to survive alone on this well-equipped yacht which had suffered large-scale damage some weeks before. She and her new boyfriend (Sam Klaflin - 'Journey's End', 'My Cousin Rachel' + 3 parts of 'The Hunger Games') having met in Tahiti, are delivering the yacht to California as a paid favour. The first half of the film jumps frequently, backwards to their burgeoning romance on the Pacific island and forwards to when an injured Claflin is cared for on the yacht while she has to do all the heavy work whilst caring for and feeding him. Then from around mid-point the film stays with the two of them on the boat (until....), drifting helplessly, searching out the wide seas for any prospect of help.   

It's all fairly standard stuff and one doesn't wish to be unkind to the source material which relates to events in 1983. Of course it must have been hair-raising to have actually happened to the participants, something which we can all take that as read. However, there's little that Icelandic director Baltasar Kormakur can do to make it an extraordinary tale. If it wasn't true we'd dismiss it as being too derivative.

I could have done without the inclusion of two mood-setting songs on the soundtrack (something I cannot stand! - as anyone who reads my blog will well know by now), the second song being a needlessly extended insertion, for goodness' sake!

Nothing special enough, then, about this film to urge you to give it a try. If you've seen any film about being stranded in the midst of a wet nowhere you've already seen this................5

(IMDb.................6.7 / Rotten Tomatoes................6.2)

Thursday 12 July 2018

Film: 'Whitney'

I didn't see Nick Broomfield's film, 'Can I Be Me?' on the same subject which was released last Summer. Majority opinion seems to be that this one is better.

Before going on I'd better state where I stand on the late Superstar. If you're not interested in my personal views on her singing and its consequences you may prefer to leap the next section to over the second line below. 

I was never a fervent fan of Whitney Houston's 'in-yer-face' singing style, though never actively disliking her either. I did enormously like her monster hit single 'I Wanna Dance.....' (1987) but there's very little after that which appealed on anything like that scale - and that particular number is coloured for me anyway by its strong resonances with the heady disco days of that era. However, although her style of singing was hardly original it was super-influential and (alas!) permeates the singing of stars and wannabes right up to today. 
I never watch those omnipresent 'talent' TV shows but whenever I accidentally come across one it's some kid yelling her/his head off - just like the insufferable Adele has also made her name. And on these shows whenever one of these would-be multi-millionaire superstars starts bellowing like as if to prove "Look - I've got lungs!" the judges turn to each other with open-mouthed, wide-eyed wonder, astonished that they could be in the presence of such, er, 'talent'. Balderdash, I say! And, a lot of this is due to trying to mimic the style of the subject of this blog - singing 'around' the note (as it's written on the page) with faux-sophisticated warbles up and down rather than steadily holding the note as the song demands. And btw: why do they always have to fill in the gaps of their 'singing' with all those 'whoa -whoas' and 'Yeah....BAY-BEE?!!!' I just want to shout '"Oh, just STFU!!!" If there's a single bar's silence in the song they must fill it in with these meaningless interjections as if they think if they stopped singing for a split second we'd fall asleep - which we probably would have done anyway were it not for the unholy din. I've said before and repeat it now - if one of these kids were to be asked to sing a 'classic' song exactly as it was written by, say, Cole Porter, Irving Berlin, Frank Loesser - or even Lloyd Webber (why not?) with absolutely no embellishments, I bet they couldn't do it. No, they need to - what they would call - 'improvise'. HAH! 
I don't think for one moment that Whitney Houston was the sole originator of the manner in which she chose to sing, but I do believe that she, more than any other identifiable source, is the one who has set the template of the style which has ignobly endured for more than three decades. 
If I write any more on the subject of modern-day singing I have fear for my blood pressure, so let's return to the subject matter:-


The film is basically a 'talking heads' feature with interspersed clips, some of which we've seen before but also a lot of unseen material - as well as new interviews made for this very film with family members, acquaintances, musicians, music industry bigwigs etc. The family includes mother Cissie, who tells us little that's new, it being clear that she was always highly protective of her daughter - Bobby Brown, who is anything but forthcoming and likewise clams up, especially in refusing to talk about drugs on the grounds that it had "nothing to do with the story". Yeah, right! Just like he himself, I suppose. Who seriously expected him to incriminate himself anyway? Then there are her two brothers and a half brother, all of whom are more open than the first two. 
The matter of her (allegedly?) having been sexually abused as a child only comes up very late in the film and is hardly resolved by the end.

We see her ascension to superstar-dom on a worldwide scale, then her fall from grace when accused of selling out her Afro-American roots by performing 'white' music. Her recovery from that major blip, her ill-judged marriage eventually ending in divorce after the seeds of her destruction had been sown, her attempts at getting clean of drugs through rehabs, the problems between her and her growing daughter, the appalling sight of her performing while skinny as a rake with arms like twigs, she and her husband are seen off their faces on drugs and alcohol, and her belated repeated attempts to get 'clean' which came too late to prevent the catastrophic end we all remember.  

At two hours long the film does stretch things a bit but it's trying to get everything in even though there are significant gaps as already mentioned - such as that of Robyn Crawford and the non-speak of Bobby Brown.

Scottish director Kevin Macdonald ('Last King of Scotland' - 2006) has created quite a compelling film. Much moreso than I was expecting. For myself, not being a fan, it held up well, so maybe Houston's genuine admirers will get even more out of this than I did......................6.5.

(IMDb............6.9 / Rotten Tomatoes.................7.6) 

Wednesday 11 July 2018

Film: 'Swimming with Men'

I'd be lying if I stated that this film didn't raise more than even a smidgeon of a smile in me. It did - maybe a couple of times at most. Problem is, this comedy just isn't.......well, funny!    

Well-known British TV and stand-up comedian, Rob Brydon, plays a bored London business accountant who manages to get himself estranged from his wife (Jane Horrocks) when he suspects her of having an affair. On a relaxing visit to the public baths one day, he finds sharing the pool with him are seven middle-aged men (one younger) who, he's intrigued to find, are practising formation swimming. He offers advice based on his expertise with figures and when he suggests they need to be an even number he gets roped in, offering little resistance, as No. 8.   
I'd heard of, or could recognise by sight, most of the other actors in this swimming group - Rupert Graves, Jim Carter, Daniel Mays, Thomas Turgoose - to which add Adeel Akhtar, Nathaniel Parker and Robert Daws. 
They discover that there's to be (guess what?) a 'World Competition in Men's Formation Swimming' in Milan the very next month. Who would have thought it?! In one month's time? Blimey, they'd better get their skates on! And so they go about hiring a no-nonsense female coach (Charlotte Riley), exactly the hard task woman they need to bark orders at them to get them into shape and get them trained. You can easily picture the scenes can't you? - just as you can imagine how the rest of the film goes. Change the sport and we've seen it all told countless times before.

Director is Oliver Parker who's directed a number of films in recent years of Oscar Wilde adaptations. He does what he can with this but the material is too thin to spread far and, despite the novelty of the sport, it's ever so predictable. Also, I'm not sure whose idea it was to have much of the background music being mock-Morricone spaghetti western soundtrack. It sounds like a desperate attempt to whip up enthusiasm in the audience though, frankly, it sounds plain ridiculous rather than humorous.
Any comedy that does exist relies on physical humour rather than the unexceptional script, which for me fell flat because it's all so familiar. Little is done to exploit the unique aspect of swimming. 
There are a couple of tangential references to gayness, but nothing controversial or even vaguely offensive. 

I'm not sure this film will pick up much business outside this country as it's a fairly parochial affair - though 'The Full Monty' (to which this is being unfairly and unrealistically mentioned in the same breath) did turn out to be an international success - so we'll have to hang fire on that one. At just one hour and a half it still comes across as laboured. 
Despite its heart being in the right place, it simply ought to have been funnier!............3.5.

(IMDb.......6.4 / Rotten Tomatoes............5.1)

Tuesday 10 July 2018

Film: 'Mary Shelley'

This was a most unexpected pleasure - assisted, I'm sure, by my having had low expectations. It was about 20 mins into the film when it struck me that despite my misgivings (including an unknown - at least to me - cast) it could be really good. And so it turned out to be. What underlines its remarkable quality is that the director is the first female film-maker of Saudi Arabia, making her first film in English - one Haifaa Al-Mansour.

I knew a little about the person (played by Elle Fanning) , essentially being the young woman author of 'Frankenstein or The Modern Prometheus' - in literature, one might say, a 'one-hit-wonder' but nevertheless unfairly eclipsed by her precociously talented husband (eventually), Percy Bysshe Shelley (Douglas Booth).  
We first meet her at the age of 16, living with her free-thinking father (Stephen Dillane), her step-mother (her own mother having died a few days after giving birth to Mary) and her step-sister, Claire (Bel Powley).
On meeting by chance the poet Percy Shelley, the two rapidly fall for each other, she not knowing then that he is already married with a 5-year old daughter, his having deserted both mother and child. She finds out but reluctantly stays by him. However when her father discovers it he forbids her to see Shelley any more. She is determined not to obey and flees her home with her adventure-minded step-sister in tow. Both Mary and Percy live for a while in un-wedded bliss though, once pregnant, Percy's attention starts being diverted towards Claire, leaving Mary very uncomfortable. When she voices her concern she's told that her companion believes in 'free-love' though she herself can only cope with an exclusive relationship. Then they bump into Lord Byron, obnoxious, heavy drinking, and a 'cad' in every sense of the word - once he's satisfied his appetite on any particular woman he casts her off and goes to the next one, there being a seemingly endless line of female admirers. Shelley himself is only a little less dismissive of women. Byron invites them to join him in Switzerland, which they do.

I was afraid that the film might duck any mention of Shelley's famed irreligion, but it doesn't, including one scene which might be considered sacriligeous. Much is made of his belief in 'love' without attachments.

The film takes the story up to the publication of 'Frankenstein' with Mary's struggle to get her name acknowledged as the author. In the first published edition her name had been omitted and it was assumed that Percy S., who'd written an introduction, had been the creator. 
I know that many will probably disagree with me but I really could have done without the final scene which gives a rather too neat rounding-off of the tale. I might have preferred having the ending covered by post-film captions (which do, in any case, tell of the couple's eventual marriage, Percy S.'s tragic early death and Mary's own continued story.) But this is an insignificant point in the context of the film's whole. 

I found it a strong film, generally dark in mood but very watchable. Unlike most reviews which I've seen this film gets my own personal certain recommendation................7.

(IMDb.............6.3 / Rotten Tomatoes............5.4 )

Monday 9 July 2018

Film: 'Leave No Trace'

Highly pleasing, gentle, heart-touching film - and with, most gratefully, no hysteria! (Though the story might have invited it!)

Ben Foster is an unemployed army veteran (as we learn later) living in the wild with his 13-year old daughter (Thomasin McKenzie) in an Oregon state park, in effect a forest, where they both live contentedly. (The reason they choose to live like this is not explained. We have to join the dots ourselves). They are discovered by rangers and taken off to the local authorities where they receive sympathetic treatment and are offered a small isolated shack where they can live together. But they both get restless and sneak away to return to the forest where, as a result of an accident affecting the father's leg they are taken in by a kindly, oldish lady who offers them accommodation in the forest while a former army medic acquaintance of hers takes care for treatment of the injured leg, agreeing not to notify the authorities. (This is the America I want to see depicted - where people have a heart of gold and are not always out to get something for themselves. So different from the ugly, predatory side we've been seeing so much of in the last two years! ) Once more, when the father has sufficiently mended, they leave without notice to return to the home environment they are used to.

Director is Debra Granik (also co-screenplay writer) does wonders in bringing Peter Rock's original novel to the screen. She also directed 'Winter's Bone' (2010) which many are suggesting was even better than this. I disagree, rating this new film as far superior. (I rated the earlier film with a '6').

I must admit I was apprehensive throughout this film that something might happen to shock me unpleasantly, but no such thing occurs. There might be some criticism that this is too much of a 'one-note' film with only the slightest shifts of mood. If it's true then I found that aspect a refreshing one.

'Leave No Trace' wears its heart on its sleeve with full justification. Deeply affecting, sensitive and most satisfying...............7.5.

(IMDb............7.6 / Rotten Tomatoes...........8.5)

Thursday 5 July 2018

Film: 'Sicario 2 - Soldado'

Sequel (in name, but little else) to 2015's 'Sicario', this latest film features two of the former's main actors, Josh Brolin and Benicio del Toro, while the major missing element this time is Emily Blunt who made a significant impact in the earlier, and there's not much additional feature here to compensate, though it's every bit as brutal.

Set around the Mexico-Texas border, as was the first film, it's a story involving rival Mexican drug cartels who smuggle Islamic terrorists, along with undocumented immigrants, over the border to commit acts of terror in the U.S.A., and the F.B.I.'s campaign to damage the Mexican gangs by driving them against each other through the kidnapping of the 16-year old daughter of one of the drug gang leaders in the guise of it being another gang who carried out the abduction. I got the general drift of the 'plot' but the details left me quite confused, not assisted by much mumbling, particularly from the morally ambivalent Brolin as the head of the on-the-ground campaign. Del Toro as the Spanish-speaking collaborator with America on the Mexican side of the border is as scarily efficient as he always is. There's also Catherine Keener who demonstrates that she can use the 'f-word' as forcefully as any man (So there!). I missed the appearances of Matthew Modine but he was in there somewhere.

The opening few minutes were shocking, plain and simple, though not in a graphically grisly sense - more in surprise. I jumped in my seat at least three times even though we could see the dread thing that was coming. Unfortunately, despite there being equally hard-hitting scenes in the main film itself, nothing gave me quite the same level of shocks. 
There are some gory moments with lots of killings nearly all through gunfire or grenades, but the pace is undermined by there also being at least two 'Oh really!' developments that took some swallowing. Oh, and the very final short scene left me perplexed, to say the least!

Director is Italian Stefano Sollima, pulling out all the stops and then some, with some aerial-shot sequences particularly impressive.
Taylor Sheridan is the writer, as he also was for the original 'Sicario'.

General verdict is that 'Sicario 2' is pretty good though not having the punch which the first one did, noticeably evidenced by the absence of an Emily Blunt character. I agree. I gave the 2015 film a rating of 6.5. This one.................5.5.

(IMDb..........7.4 / Rotten Tomatoes................6.3)

Wednesday 4 July 2018

Film: 'Together'

I'll give this film points on two aspects, but thereafter I search in vain for anything commendable.
It's not often, very rarely actually, that we see an entire story devoted exclusively to an aged couple - Sylvia Syms and Peter Bowles playing their real-life early-eighties ages, here in a marriage that's lasted over six decades.   
I knew that the story had the potential to suffocate and drown in a pungent slurry of sentiment - but (though some may disagree) I thought that despite the basic proposition of their being separated with the threat of being put in different residential care homes, it somehow did manage to not go quite under.  

Why did I even go? Well, I had to make a quick decision, not being in the mood to follow my diary and attend a screening of Ian McKellan spouting forth on his career yet again (I'd had my fill of his talks, I think, even before the millenium!) I checked on what alternatives there were - and this jumped out because (twice bitten I!) it showed an astonishing average rating of 9.8/10 on IMDb. If only I'd delved deeper. I was already aware that reviews has been indifferent at best, but returning home afterwards I found that someone has spiked the ratings - just as had happened on my last cinema visit. As at today (with an average rating now down to 9.0, which takes into account my own 'helpfully' low one) it seems that of the 23 individuals who have offered a rating, 16 of them have given this film a perfect 10. Plainly absurd! Someone's larking around with submitted scores without having been spotted - and it surely must be the same person. Needless to say I will not be fooled again.

Back to the film, or at least the stars for starters:-
Sylvia Syms has been a feature of British films and TV since the 1950s. In her time she was considered something of a beauty, and so she was (Is one permitted to use such vocabulary these days?) In those early years she featured in at least two 'classic' b/w British films - 'Ice Cold in Alex' (1958) and the historically significant, 'Victim' with Dirk Bogarde in 1961. Her more recent appearances include her playing the Queen Mother in 'The Queen' in 2005 with Helen Mirren. I saw her once on stage, back in 1970, when she still had those famous looks, as Beatrice in that curious play of two halves, light-dark, 'Much Ado About Nothing' - with location shifted to Mexico!
Peter Bowles has done much less film work but he too has been a stalwart of British TV since about the same time. (I've also seen him live on stage in a couple of Alan Ayckbourns.)

Two such aged characters, if they appeared in a film at all, would almost always have been peripherals to the main storyline to give it 'variety', not the central focus as they are here, and with little deviation.
The couple are living contentedly together in their own house when she has an accident and is taken to hospital where it's recommended she remains for a few days. Meanwhile, official procedures take over when he's found to be living alone at his advanced age, although he's displaying no signs of incapacity, and it's suggested that he goes into a residential home just for the period his wife his away, something he's most reluctant to do. He eventually agrees to go when assured that it's only for the short term when he would otherwise be living alone. Meanwhile it's discovered that on the police files there's a 50-year old case of his having assaulted his wife and given her a black eye. In fact, she had drunk too much on just one occasion and had fallen over, giving her the injury, but in order to avoid her being given embarrassment he had taken the rap for it. Nothing had been heard of it until now with the police involved, and because of his 'record' they are now resisting letting them move back to living together. Behind a veneer of "we're only doing what's best for the two of you" the local council is playing strictly by the book. The tug-of-war between officialese and this elderly couple not wanting to be separated is the raison d'etre of this story.

If I say the film was not as dire as it could have been, it achieved that by only a small margin. The script, I thought, was as flat as can be - every word predictable with not a sparkle of wit anywhere. Early on I was thinking to myself "This just isn't good enough. Anyone could have written this!" The dialogue added nothing at all. It could almost have been a silent film and what we lost in information wouldn't have added up to much. I was wondering how the two stars could have signed up to play in this. I can only surmise that they'd have been flattered to have the chance of playing main characters at their ages, opportunities like this being rare indeed.
If it's possible to find an even worse ingredient than a poor script, it was the incessant, maddening background music - mainly clarinet and strings giving a mood of "playful and reassuringly not too serious'. (Old folks, you know!) It was quickly driving me round the bend. It just would not stop - well hardly, anyway.

Directing as well as being responsible for the dull script was 52 year-old, one Paul Duddridge, whose only other feature film as director was the indifferently rated 'Mothers and Daughters' (2016) - not seen by me. If the general opinion of that one is true, this 'Together' does not constitute an advance.

It's now getting on for 24 hours since I returned from having seen this and am only now submitting this post. I have to say that, despite negative feelings, I now don't feel quite as unfavourably disposed as this time yesterday. Thus my rating is correspondingly higher...............3.5.