Avoiding the Grey Panthers

Late Bloomers

 

Sharing a wonderfully bitter-sweet moment in the bath

Cast: William Hurt, Isabella Rossellini, Simon Callow, Nicholas Farrell and Joanna Lumley

Director: Julie  Gavras

Late Bloomers directed by Julie Gavras,  seen at the 32nd Durban International Film Festival in July 2011 is a shy perceptive tale about a middle-aged couple, Adam and Mary in London, who are fairly successful yet have inevitably lost touch with each other to such point that they engage in brief affairs to reignite the dormant love that that once cherished. William Hurt always so brilliantly reticent as the semi shy architect who is losing touch with his own potential is pared against the diva of semi-independent cinema Isabella Rossellini who for once takes on a starring role and is suitably anguished as a woman who realizes that the world has moved much faster than she can imagine.

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Ironic for Rossellini the once the gorgeous model for French fashion house Lancome, who has come a long way from her heady debut in David Lynch’s weird and slightly uncompromising tour de force in Blue Velvet and has appeared alongside Meryl Streep in the 90’s satire on plastic surgery Death Becomes Her and more recently as the mother to the anguished Joaquin Phoenix in the Brooklyn based Jewish drama Two Lovers.

William Hurt one of my favourite actors, ever since he appeared in Hector Babenco’s brilliant Kiss of the Spiderwoman is beautifully cast in Late Bloomers as the aging architect who is unwilling to accept the inevitability of early retirement, and in doing so surrounds himself with a batch of young ambitious architects for one of his new projects, the construction of a museum.

Rossellini and Hurt make a fine pair as a couple on the verge of retirement and have to find ways to rediscover the love they once shared for each other. Comic moments are provided by their three thirty something children who decide that a parental intervention is necessary to recapture the love their semi-retired parents once shared.

Suitable foils for Hurt’s melancholic performance is the delightful Simon Callow, seldom seen on film since the collapse of the highly collaborative Merchant Ivory films.  Mary’s confidante is played with relish by Joanna Lumley ex (AbFab) who also happens to be the leader of the Grey Panthers, senior citizens’ rights and activities group. A wonderful moment  in the film is when Adam suitably horrified at the prospect of the Grey Panthers invited by the unsuspecting Mary descend on his home, makes a hasty retreat to his office for refuge and a brief reinvention with youth is part of the charm and delight of Late Bloomers.

Late Bloomers is a quirky comedy about a successful yet aberrant couple whose marriage is near disaster only to be saved by the onset of a funeral, to bring all concerned back to the reality of life, commitment and death and will definitely appeal to viewers within the fifty plus age group.

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