Movie review: Song for Marion (12A)

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Everything you expect is here, oldies behaving like teenagers, music massaging the emotions, cancer clawing at the heartstrings and a choir competition to emulate Brassed Off.

Films like this are labelled Senior Citizens Only and left to rot on the geriatric shelf next to One Foot In The Grave’s boxset.

Song For Marion is not a film like this. It’s simple, funny, sad, entertaining and surprisingly honest. Writer/director Paul Andrew Williams made London To Brighton (2006) which tore the skin off expectation and left the audience gasping. Committed filmmakers do not waste their time, nor their talent, on saccharine basted, wet hanky clichoids. They touch the deep-veined core of love and loss to leave you wringing.

Arthur (Terence Stamp) is a grump. His wife Marion (Vanessa Redgrave) is a joy.

She has terminal cancer and insists on going to choir practice until the very last minute. After she’s gone Arthur is devastated until the young, attractive choir leader (Gemma Arterton) persuades him to take her place.

What could be more sentimental? How Williams succeeds where others let you drown in your tears is by teetering on the brink of mawkishness and never falling off. The script is sharp, the performances stellar and, the supporting cast majestic.

Forget the old bit. This is a film for everyone and you are guaranteed to come out of the cinema with a big fat smile on your face.

Another plus, if needed, is Stamp. Hardly renowned as one of thesp’s best, rather the beautiful boy who retained a glimmer of glamour as his hair thinned and turned white. Here he shows what he can do. It’s a revelation. And the chemistry between him and Redgrave takes goosebumps to another level.