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Song For Marion - Review

Song For Marion

Review by Rob Carnevale

IndieLondon Rating: 3.5 out of 5

PAUL Andrew Williams may not be a name you’d associate with heartfelt relationship dramas given his track record so far with London To Brighton, The Cottage and Cherry Tree Lane. But he makes the transition extremely well.

Born from personal experience, Song For Marion is a tear-jerker that also manages to warm the heart without, crucially, feeling as though it’s manipulating your emotions.

The story follows Marion (Vanessa Redgrave) and her curmudgeonly husband Arthur (Terence Stamp). Marion has terminal cancer but is determined to live out her final days to the full, including entering a singing competition with her elderly choir, the OAPZ (run by Gemma Arterton’s Elizabeth).

Arthur, though, wants to be left alone and his silent anger threatens to alienate all around him, including his already estranged son (Christopher Eccleston). When tragedy strikes, however, Arthur has to make some big decisions.

Williams’s film stems from the writer-director’s own personal experiences of dealing with cancer as well as his admiration for his grandparents and is a thoughtfully considered piece that avoids the temptation to come over too mawkish.

Indeed, there’s a refreshing honesty to the screenplay that more than compensates for some of the more obvious plot directions (particularly with regard to the competition).

The joy and sadness here is to be found in the performances, which really do excel. Redgrave imbues Marion with a life-affirming optimism, while Stamp painfully wears his quiet anger and frustration well, thereby making his awakening all the more root-worthy. It’s a portrayal that self-consciously strips away the sophistication we’ve come to expect from the actor and one that feels all the more honest for it.

Ecclestone also shines as Arthur’s estranged son (and the scenes between them are particularly strong) while Arterton is endearing even when being annoying.

Williams’s film also deserves credit for handling the more generic elements well so that even though you may guess where it’s going, you’ll enjoy getting there nonetheless. And your tears feel earned rather than stolen.

Not everything is perfect, of course, with some of the support among the choir feeling particularly contrived. And a couple of the songs might grate too (does everything movie-related have to come down to sex nowadays, including songs for the elderly?).

But taken as a whole, Song For Marion endears and should have you smiling and crying in equal measure.

Certificate: PG
Running time: 90mins
UK Release Date: February 22, 2013