Writer-director Paul Andrew Williams makes a startling shift from the crime and horror genres he’s favoured since his electrifying 2006 debut London to Brighton with this unabashed tearjerker, a warm-hearted comedy-drama about love, grief and finding your voice.
And the surprises don’t stop there. Song for Marion also stars two British screen icons from the 1960s in untypical roles and finds them both in glorious form.
They’re Terence Stamp and Vanessa Redgrave and they play an elderly working-class couple living in a small town in the Northeast. Grumpy, taciturn Arthur disapproves of his outgoing wife Marion’s enthusiastic involvement in local community choir the OAPZ, but Marion has terminal cancer and she is determined to participate in the choir’s activities for as long as she is able.
As the story unfolds, Williams throws in some additional strands – Arthur’s prickly relationship with his son (Christopher Eccleston); the choir’s preparations for an upcoming competition; and the efforts of the music teacher who runs the OAPZ, Gemma Arterton’s cheery, good-natured Elizabeth, to get the buttoned-up Arthur to unlock his emotions.
Along the way the OAPZ get to deliver cringe-worthy versions of Motörhead and Salt-N-Pepa songs, while the film’s leads perform stripped-down, nakedly emotional versions of Cyndi Lauper’s ‘True Colors’ and Billy Joel’s ‘Lullaby (Goodnight, My Angel)’.
Parts of the film are cheesy and the whole is undeniably manipulative, but the film is so tender and generous, and its stars so genuinely affecting, that it’s easy to forgive the odd bum note. And if you don’t blub at least twice while watching you have a heart of stone.
In cinemas from Friday 22nd February.
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