Jazz, film, and improvised culture.
Unfinished Song: Lift Every Cranky Voice
is hard to blame a working class misanthrope for being such a sourpuss. He is surrounded by quirky old-timers. Still, performing with his late wife’s swing
choir might help the grouchy old widower.
Surely everyone will learn and grow from the empowering experience in
Paul Andrew Williams’ Unfinished Song (trailer here), which opens
tomorrow in New York.
his granddaughter, the only person Arthur Harris ever got along with was his
beloved wife Marion. Unfortunately, the
ailing woman is not long for this world.
Harris does his best to make her comfortable, including schlepping her
to and from her chorale practice. Of
course, he never joins in. He just
stalks about outside, chain-smoking and scowling at the world.
Marion finally succumbs, Harris cuts ties to his resentful son James, essentially
resolving to give up on living. However,
Elizabeth, the perky-on-the-outside volunteer choir director keeps popping
round, slowly but surely luring him out of his shell. It turns out grumpy old Arthur can do a bit
of crooning himself.
the screening I attended, several colleagues were openly mocking Song’s mawkishness (but yours truly
scrupulously observed decorum). They
might have been a bit harsh, but there is no denying the film is loaded with enough saccharine to
give lab rats cancer.
Song is like two mismatched halves imperfectly
squished together. Terence Stamp’s work
as Harris is uncompromising honest and admirably understated. Viewers will really wonder what he is doing
in a maudlin film like this, instead of something with a bit more edge, like Harry Brown. Likewise, former Doctor Who
Christopher Eccleston gives an unusually sensitive yet down-to-earth
performance as the estranged grown son.
However, every scene featuring Vanessa Redgrave’s impossibly chipper
Marion Harris and her plucky choirmates becomes a goey bacchanal of sentimental
If you could not get enough of the Young@Heart
chorus getting down with a decidedly contemporary repertoire in their eponymously
titled documentary than Unfinished Song is
surely your cup of tea. However, general
audiences will face a potential risk of sugar shock. Only for Terence Stamp’s die-hard admirers, Unfinished Song opens tomorrow (6/21) in
New York at the Paris Theatre.
Labels: British Cinema, Terence Stamp