Monday, 15 August 2016

Song for Marion (3 Stars)

So many films are made each year. I estimate that about 500 films are made in America, 100 in England and 100 in Germany. Of course, thousands are made in other countries, but those are the three countries whose films I watch the most. How can I possibly decide what to watch? It's not just a matter of watching two films a day, which would theoretically be enough to see all 700 films from my three favourite countries. I also like to watch films more than once. And of course, many films never make it into the cinema, so I have to wait until they're released on Blu-ray.

My film choices aren't completely random, but they also aren't completely under my own control. Films shown in cinemas have a good chance of finding their way into my watch list. While I lived in England I tried to watch at least two films in the cinema each week, and now that I'm in Germany I try to watch at least one film in the cinema. Films that are already in my extensive DVD and Blu-ray collection have a good chance of getting a repeat viewing. My preferences for buying new films (preferably on Blu-ray) are based on certain factors, some positive, some negative.

1. If a film is about someone with cancer I don't watch it.

This might seem random, but I hate films about cancer. I find it so depressing as a subject. I prefer to bury my head in the sand and pretend it doesn't exist.

2. If a film stars Gemma Arterton I watch it.

There are a few other actors whose films I have to see. Apart from Gemma there's Jim Carrey and Chloe Grace Moretz. There are also a few directors on my must-watch list, including Quentin Tarantino, Sion Sono and Zhang Yimou.

I could quote other positive and negative factors in deciding which films to watch, but I'll leave it at these two. They put me in a dilemma. "Song for Marion" is a film about cancer that stars Gemma Arterton, so should I watch it or not?

As you can see, I've decided to watch "Song for Marion", albeit a few years after it was released in 2012. I have no regrets about watching it, even though I've only given it an average rating.

The film is about an old married couple, Arthur and Marion, played by Terence Stamp and Vanessa Redgrave. They are proof that opposites attract. Marion is cheerful and full of energy. She takes part in sessions with a local amateur choir. Her husband is a grumpy old man who thinks that singing is silly. When Marion's cancer enters its final stages she spends as much time as possible singing. This confuses Arthur, but he tolerates it. After her death he becomes a total recluse, until he finally decides to try singing to see what it's all about. The choir's teacher, played by Gemma Arterton, helps him break out of his shell.

This is a wonderfully moving film with high quality performances from all of the leading actors, including Christopher Eccleston who plays Marion's son. I found the singing itself rather dull. It's not up to the standard of musicals, but that was never the intention. The cancer is depressing, but once it was out of the way the film picked up for me.

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