The Time of Their Lives
Joan and Pauline Collins make an engaging double act in this road movie for retirees
The spirit of Shirley Valentine can be discerned throughout this amiable British comedy, even if the end result is unlikely to replicate that film's success. That said, given the right marketing push and some generous word of mouth, it should at least prove a hit with its clearly targeted 'grey pound' demographic.
Written and directed by Roger Goldby (largely known for his work in TV), The Time of Their Lives stars the erstwhile Ms Valentine, Pauline Collins, as neglected housewife Priscilla, who accidentally winds up on a coach full of dotty pensioners who are headed to France for a day trip. She's swiftly befriended by forgotten film star Helen (Joan Collins), who persuades Priscilla to ditch the trip and accompany her to the funeral of her husband. Along the way, the pair have a series of road movie-style adventures, including an amorous encounter with eccentric artist Alberto (Franco Nero).
The Collinses make an engaging double act and the strength of their performances goes a long way towards papering over some of the script's shortcomings. The Time of Their Lives works best whenever its leading ladies are allowed to go a little off the rails – swearing at passing cars while hitchhiking, blithely making off with a stolen vehicle – and Joan reveals unexpected emotional depth during a showstopper of a singing scene that's the highlight of the film. There's also game support from Nero, whose commitment to onscreen nudity raises almost as many smiles as it does eyebrows.
Unfortunately, while Goldby's screenplay pushes many of the right buttons, it occasionally feels unfinished, with several unexploited opportunities (such as playing up the sexual jealousy angle with Alberto) where just an extra line or moment would have given the material a lift. Yet he deserves credit for a finale that refuses to indulge in the expected sentimental clichés and some poignant observations about the realities of old age.
General release from Fri 10 Mar.