Aging is not always dealt with gracefully on the big screen. Sometimes it is mocked, or ignored, as though anyone over the age of sixty is irrelevant unless they are trying to recapture their youth for comedic purposes. Every once in awhile, a movie comes along that treats getting older with respect and allows its characters to enter their last act with dignity. The dramedy Finding Your Feet is not actually about the struggles of getting older (it mainly uses them for dramatic plot points), but it likes and appreciates its subjects. It is a pleasant, likable, amusing film filled with enjoyable actors.
Imelda Staunton stars as Sandra who, on the eve of her husband’s retirement, finds out he has been having an affair. Furious and humiliated, she ends up on the doorstep of her free-spirited sister, Elizabeth (or Bif, as everyone calls her) who tries to help Sandra enjoy life again. It is easy to predict the beats of the story, but that does not mean you will be unable to have fun watching it follow them. There is certainly pleasure to be had in seeing a skilled cast doing their thing. Director Richard Loncraine and screenwriters Meg Leonard and Nick Moorcroft give them enough to work with to keep the production moving pretty well.
Staunton brings a convincing mix of stubbornness and fear to the lead role. Sandra is a woman who has waited her whole life to walk into the retirement sunset with her husband and then suddenly has that dream yanked away from her. It is understandable that she has reservations about Bif’s way of doing things since she is unable to remember how to be anything besides her husband’s wife. As Elizabeth, Celia Imrie fills what could have been a clichéd role with wit, charm and energy. Some of the dialogue she is given is kind of ridiculous, but she makes it humorous and is the best thing in the movie. Timothy Spall and Joanna Lumley round out the main cast. Lumley gets several of the funniest lines and Spall gets to play the most emotions. They are all good and the film is better for having them.
Although retirement, illness and the inevitability of death are not truly what Finding Your Feet is about, their importance among that age group are acknowledged. The majority of the story follows Bif attempting to encourage her sister to move on (the title is a reference to the dance class many of the characters attend), but the realities of aging are recognized. In fact, memory loss is handled in a much more honest way than in the recent The Leisure Seeker, where it played a central part in the plot.
Finding Your Feet (107 minutes without the end credits) is not a realistic story per se, but it is far from a fantasy. It is a respectful, if not particularly deep, film that happens to be about older people. And it does not completely dismiss everything that entails. It is reasonably entertaining, though fairly unmemorable. However, it is nice seeing the spotlight shine on actors like Staunton, Imrie, Spall and Lumley. They make this worth a viewing.
3¼ out of 5
Imelda Staunton as Sandra
Celia Imrie as Bif
Timothy Spall as Charlie
Joanna Lumley as Jackie
David Hayman as Ted
John Sessions as Mike
Directed by Richard Loncraine
Written by Meg Leonard and Nick Moorcroft