Review: ‘Daisies in December’

Filmed in Cornwall, England, by HTV Intl. in association with Flextech Plc for Signboard Hill Prods. Producers, Huw Davies, Alan Clayton; director, Mark Haber; writer, John Kane, based on a story by Jenny Paschall; The daisies in the title of this Showtime made-for are, unusually, blooming in England in December, finding spring in the middle of winter. Metaphorically speaking, so are the protagonists of the film, two elderly folk at a seaside resort hotel who find love long after either expected to. Nicely written pic, though slow to unfold, presents sympathetic characters in engrossing, believable situation and will reward patient viewers looking for a touching romance.

Filmed in Cornwall, England, by HTV Intl. in association with Flextech Plc for Signboard Hill Prods. Producers, Huw Davies, Alan Clayton; director, Mark Haber; writer, John Kane, based on a story by Jenny Paschall; The daisies in the title of this Showtime made-for are, unusually, blooming in England in December, finding spring in the middle of winter. Metaphorically speaking, so are the protagonists of the film, two elderly folk at a seaside resort hotel who find love long after either expected to. Nicely written pic, though slow to unfold, presents sympathetic characters in engrossing, believable situation and will reward patient viewers looking for a touching romance.

Mr. Carmody (Joss Ackland) is packed off to the hotel while his son and his family, with whom he lives, head off for a Christmas skiing holiday.

The standoffish retired stockbroker doesn’t like to be around old people, he says, and bitterly says of the hotel, “Places like this are the equivalent of a kennel.” The friendly but slightly condescending welcome/initiation he receives from hotel staffer Miss Glaistow (Pippa Guard, discreet and warm) doesn’t do much to change his attitude.

He keeps to himself, going so far as to pretend to be deaf at the table in the communal dining room. But he warms up around Miss Palmer (Jean Simmons), a similarly solitary woman he spies reading on an isolated bench.

It’s a leisurely courtship between the spiky Carmody and the mysterious lady, who takes it upon herself to teach him to let his hair down. Her secret eventually is revealed, providing the major complication of the tale.

Clever writing (credit John Kane) and lovely scenery combine to hold viewer interest until the (of course) happy ending.

Ackland is utterly convincing as the old man who refuses to act his age. He portrays Carmody’s loosening-up with subtlety, and it’s touching to watch him realize he’s in love. As the object of his affections, Simmons delivers an eloquent portrayal of an enigmatic character.

Adding spice are local taxi driver Derek, played with great charm by Ian Crowe; and Carmody’s dining companions, the humorously crotchety trio of Barbara Lott, Muriel Pavlow and Wolfe Morris.

Mark Haber’s judicious direction is effective, and Brian West’s lensing offers luscious views of the Cornish coast. Music by Mark Thomas draws on the classical themes that play a part in the story.

Daisies in December

Production

Showtime, Sun. Dec. 3, 8 p.m.

Crew

Camera, Brian West; production designer, Paul Laugier; art director, David Jennings; music, Mark Thomas. 95 MIN.

With

With: Joss Ackland, Jean Simmons, Pippa Guard, Judith Barker, Barbara Lott, Muriel Pavlow, Wolfe Morris, Ian Crowe, Eric Carte, Sally Knyvette, Thomas Copeland, Stuart Piper, John Harding, Derek Crewe, Sally Watts, Emma Weaver, Lesley Taylor Jones.
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