My column today is about three movies,
Unfinished Song (2012),
The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel (2011),
Mid-August Lunch (2008),
and a documentary film, Young @ Heart (2007).
All four movies feature superb ensemble casts, people in the 70’s, 80’s and 90’s, who create dramas (both serious and funny) with raw emotions and important lessons to be learned.
Young @ Heart and Unfinished Song are both films about seniors who sing regularly in a chorus and prepare for competitions. The documentary Young @ Heart follows a large group of seniors in Northampton Mass., as they are encouraged by their empathetic and skilled leader to rehearse and to learn new songs. They must also face difficulties of memory and mobility, they deal with illness and the death of a member of their chorus. The viewer shares in their tenacity and accomplishments, bemoans their difficulties, and is filled with joy and appreciation at the privilege of sharing their experiences.
The movie Unfinished Song begins with an elderly couple. The wife is a devoted member of a chorus, and attends rehearsals until she dies of cancer. The husband is a bad-tempered, grumpy old man; he never liked the chorus, he tried to stop her from attending, and, in his grieving, he retreats from friends and his son and granddaughter. The young woman who leads the chorus takes an interest in him and gradually lures him into singing for her and then for the chorus. Singing and participating in the chorus revitalize him. He allows himself to become vulnerable, and repairs the damage he has done to those around him. The issues of dying, death, and grieving represent lessons to be learned by all viewers. And there is a happy ending.
Mid-August Lunch is an Italian jewel of a movie. It is August in Rome; it is hot, humid and only the old and the poverty-stricken are left in the city. We meet the devoted son who takes care of his feisty aged mother. He reads to her, he shops, cooks, cleans. This is a good son; and soon his friends and acquaintances insist that he takes care of their mothers and aunts. Now there are three more elderly women in the apartment. The four women and the son must get to know each other and get along in very restricted circumstances. Well, with a little wine and some good food and music, they quickly crystalize into a joyous group of singing, dancing women who exhibit a joy of life that is palpable and contagious.
In the movie The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel, seven elderly Britons, for a variety of reasons, respond to an online ad and travel to Jaipur, India, where they find run-down hotel with a young, exuberant, and optimistic host. Evelyn, newly widowed, wants low-cost experience, Graham seeks a long-ago love, Douglas and Jean have lost their pension in a family investment, Muriel needs cheap hip surgery, Madge seeks a rich husband, and Norman is chasing women. India affects each in different ways, enchanting Douglas and Evelyn while driving Jean deeper into bitterness. Their host, young Sonny, has dreams but little cash or skill; he also has a girlfriend whom his mother dismisses. Stories cross and discoveries await each one (www.imdb.com ). This movie has it all, romance, sex, adventure, prejudice, frustration, and fear. Yet somehow, this disparate group finds answers to questions, comes to grip with being out of their comfort zone and ultimately learns valuable lessons about living life in the here and now.
You can find some of these movies at Black Dog Video and all of them at Limelight Video.