Song For Marion (2012)

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To go from dark comedy and urban horror to family-friendly drama is quite an interesting turn for Paul Andrew Williams. It may not have the complexities of his previous films, which includes The Cottage (2008) and The Children (2008), but something tells us that this change of direction is just as adverse to us as it is to the London to Brighton director.

Song for Marion (2012) is a drama starring Terrence Stamp, who plays grumpy pensioner Arthur. His upbeat wife Marion (Vanessa Redgrave) is terminally ill but tirelessly participates in a local choir headed by the young and unorthodox Elizabeth (Gemma Arterton). As Marion’s health deteriorates, Arthur reluctantly joins the choir to make her happy, leading him to lift his spirits and reach out to his estranged son, James (Christopher Eccleston).

The plot isn’t very original – melancholic pensioner with father-son issues, who is coaxed out of his comfort zone – so Williams has brought in contemporary elements, such as using rock songs from Motorhead and Salt-N-Pepa to liven things up. But this, along with the stubborn Arthur, hints a slight sense of ageism as to whether pensioners can pull off pop and rock songs in their own style, not to mention market this steady drama to more than just mature audiences, following in the footsteps of recent features Quartet (2012) and The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel (2012). Arterton’s good-natured Elizabeth doesn’t really help either as the premise of an attractive young woman, whose social life seems to solely consist of this choir, seems almost pitiful.

The film is, however, saved by the strong performances from Redgrave and Stamp. The optimism of Marion, as well as her sentimentality – as shown during a touching performance of Cyndi Lauper’s True Colours – shines through: she is the yin to Stamp’s yang. Thanks to the relatability of his character, Stamp puts in a heartfelt and believable performance that makes you smile.

In the end, Song of Marion falls in the current stream of slow, steady British dramas for mature audiences. Sweet, heartfelt but a bit too slow and safe for Williams.

Song of Marion is in cinemas 22nd February 2013.

Director: Paul Andrew Williams
Writer: Paul Andrew Williams
Stars: Gemma Arterton, Vanessa Redgrave, Christopher Eccleston
Runtime: 93 mins
Country: UK, Germany

Film Rating: ★★½☆☆

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