To call this film gentle would probably be an insult to gentility, but sometimes that’s all that you want as a viewer. It’s a story of a love affair between two 80-somethings played by Shirley Maclaine and Christopher Plummer, after they’re moved into adjoining apartments by their fussy children (Marcia Gay Harden and Scott Bakula respectively). The character arcs — whereby Elsa is the sparky vibrant one who has a love of the film La dolce vita, and who coaxes Fred out of his shell — would be tiresome if the actors were a third their age, but you don’t see too many films about love amongst the elderly, so it’s nice to know the actors can still get work. Both have an easy charm, and the director keeps things firmly middle-of-the-road, avoiding the worst excesses of sentimentality (until the finale at least). Easy to forget, but hard to really take too vociferously against.
Director Michael Radford; Writers Radford and Anna Pavignano (based on the film Elsa y Fred written by Marcos Carnevale, Marcela Guerty and Lily Ann Martin); Cinematographer Michael McDonough; Starring Shirley Maclaine, Christopher Plummer, Marcia Gay Harden, Scott Bakula, Chris Noth; Length 94 minutes.
Seen at home (DVD), London, Tuesday 30 June 2015.