There has a been a small rise in films aimed at the “grey pound” in the last few years, and they’re normally pretty damn good (Exotic Marigold Hotel, for example, was delightful), but they never change the world. I mean, the scripts are nearly always great, but they won’t be your favourite films. On the one hand, it’s nice to see films which aren’t aimed at the 18-25 male demographic where they spend millions on special effects but piece the script together using random words cut from cereal boxes. But I do fear this could lead to “old people” being a genre, so there is the possibility that it could actually pigeonhole an entire generation, so the only films starring people over the age of 50 will be these kinds of films. There is also the risk that as they become more popular, the scripts become less refined, and you have the danger of them just becoming “old people are people too” and being really condescending. It’s one of the great things about this film actually, they’re not written as old people, they’re written as people who have lived a while. There is a difference: if you write a character as elderly, you give them only elderly characteristics, if you write them as someone who has lived, you give them entire backstories full of drunken escapades in their youth. There is a tendency to write characters entirely based on who they are now, and forget how they must have been to lead to this point, and this film should be commended for doing that. It’s a masterclass of character-work, even the way the sets are designed. Celia Imrie’s character has a flat which has so much detail to it it’s almost a character itself.
This is not the greatest film I’ve seen, but it’s enjoyable. It’s the cinematic equivalent of a piece of toast (I compare films to food way more than most people do, I should look into that). By that, I mean that no matter how perfectly it does what it needs to, it will never be your favourite. It sticks to a formula, and as such is kind of restrained by that. You can guess almost every single plot point in this film from the opening 10 minutes. It won’t surprise you at all. But it doesn’t really need to, this is not a film to analyse and pore over, it’s a film to sit and distract yourself, and it does that well. The dialogue is razor sharp, the characters are loveable (and fully fleshed out, even the background ones have minor details to them which help you know them), and it will make you smile. The whole thing is just massively endearing and charming and, I don’t know, warm I guess is the word I’m looking for. You know how certain films have colours attached to them? I’d say this one is orangey red. It’s just comforting and lovely, the kind of film the whole family gathers and watches on Christmas Day, in that post-dinner haze where you’re all too exhausted to move, and someone inevitably falls asleep in the sofa with their Christmas hat still on. It’s incredibly BBC, and I mean that as positive and a negative.
So yeah don’t go out of your way to watch this, but if (actually, when) it comes on iPlayer, watch it immediately. You won’t regret it, plus, you get to see Celia Imrie and Timothy Spall get high, and you won’t get that in Avengers (if that turns out to be wrong, I’ll be amazed).