×
You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

Film Review: ‘Finding Your Feet’

Sweet and plummy as a jam tart, Richard Loncraine's gentle late-life romcom rightly counts on its classy cast to get by.

Director:
Richard Loncraine
With:
Imelda Staunton, Timothy Spall, Celia Imrie, Joanna Lumley
Release Date:
Mar 30, 2018

Rated PG-13  1 hour 51 minutes

For a film as ostensibly bouncy as “Finding Your Feet,” there’s an awful lot of death in it. That’s no bad thing. As Richard Loncraine’s good-natured golden-years comedy zips through zero weddings and a couple of funerals, the light pressure of mortality on proceedings gives an otherwise silly, sentimental affair a glancing connection with real life and its limits: It’s the kind of feelgood cinema that at least pays lip service to other feelings. Starring Imelda Staunton as a wronged society wife forced to drop her airs and gain some oxygen when she moves in with her freewheeling boho sister (a sparkling Celia Imrie), “Feet” rests pleasantly enough on its mild Sunday-lunch charms and the unstrained gifts of a tony ensemble: Sure to be forever bound to “The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel” via “if you like this” algorithms, it has its own, more grounded appeal.

The film’s U.K. distributor, Entertainment One, unsurprisingly modeled the film’s marketing and release strategy on “Best Exotic” right down to its late-February opening, though “Finding Your Feet” coined less than half the 2012 sleeper’s gray-pound gross in its opening weekend. Equivalent word-of-mouth phenomenon status may not be on the cards — always unlikely without the platinum marquee appeal of a Judi Dench or a Maggie Smith — but Loncraine’s film should settle into a comfortable retirement in ancillary and streaming.

For Loncraine, “Finding Your Feet” at least finds him on more comfortable ground than his last attempt at engaging the senior sector, 2014’s strangely joyless Diane Keaton-Morgan Freeman combo “5 Flights Up” — though it remains something of a mystery what happened to the gutsy formalist behind 1995’s singular “Richard III” update. Still, “Finding Your Feet” has more visual pep and polish than most more televisual Britcoms of its ilk, thanks to John Pardue’s smooth lensing — lending a lick of lacquer even to a fading London council estate — and some particularly perky choices on the part of costume designer Jill Taylor. Here’s the rare film that allows even Timothy Spall to brighten up the place in a floppy magenta homburg.

Then again, it’s not every day that Spall gets to flex his muscles as a romantic lead. From the second his character Charlie, a cheery Cockney furniture restorer, brushes shoulders with haughty social climber Lady Sandra Abbott (Staunton), we know the thick, mustardy layer of instant antagonism between them isn’t long for this world: “Finding Your Feet” hits its romantic-comedy beats with an old-timer’s clockwork efficiency. Not that Sandra is easily brought out of the funk that followed her discovery of a years-long affair between her husband Mike (John Sessions) and one of her best friends.

Unable to face the social humiliation in her moneyed countryside community, she turns up at the shabby north London apartment of her estranged older sister Elizabeth, with the intention of drinking herself into a stupor. Elizabeth, a never-married misfit with a wide array of oddball friends and liberal causes, prescribes senior-citizens dancing classes instead, where Sandra and Charlie gradually find more than just a good waltzing rhythm together. It’s thanks more to Staunton’s honestly creased vulnerability as a performer than to the over-tidy reversals of Nick Moorcroft and Meg Leonard’s script that Sandra thaws as sympathetically as she does, since she’s a pretty bitter pill to be around for the first act: racist, classist and narcissistic in ways it generally takes more than a foxtrot to fix.

But “Finding Your Feet” has little time for staying put, or set in one’s ways: It’s a story that shows time to be of the essence in multiple ways, as its characters, all with their own hidden pockets of tragedy, frankly set about ensuring they don’t die angry, lonely or without ever having participated in a dance flashmob in Piccadilly Circus. (Hey, to each her own bucket list.) To quote Elizabeth’s sassy friend Jackie (a sadly underused Joanna Lumley), Sandra finds more to life as a free woman than a kept Lady, and this is a surprise to no one but herself — least of all the audience.

The modest rewards in “Finding Your Feet” are ones of sprightly human chemistry rather than great narrative discovery, of all-round good humor rather than outright hilarity. It’s easy to poke holes in its cozier aspects of Earl Grey fantasy, or its conservative conventionality right down to its final, unfashionable freeze-frame. Yet it’s harder to think of many other vehicles that would let Timothy Spall woo Imelda Staunton in his own shambling way, or allow Celia Imrie — a saltwater-taffy delight here, all spit-spot brightness and wisdom with a what-if undercurrent of sadness — to show us her moves as a no-strings seductress. If not now, when? That’s the driving rhetorical question behind most of this light silver bauble, and coming up with an answer would hardly be time well spent.

Film Review: 'Finding Your Feet'

Reviewed at Cineworld Wood Green, London, Feb. 28, 2018. (In Torino, Palm Springs festivals.) Running time: 111 MIN.

Production: (U.K.) A Roadside Attractions (in U.S.)/Entertainment One (in U.K.) release of an Eclipse Films, Powder Keg Pictures production in coproduction with Catalyst Global Media, Fred Films in association with Bob & Co., Twickenham Studios, Ultimate Pictures. (International sales: Protagonist Pictures, London.) Producers: Andrew Berg, John Sachs, Meg Leonard, Nick Moorcroft, James Spring, Charlotte Walls. Executive producers: Gideon Lyons, Graham Begg, Lesley Wise, Brian Berg, Lynne Berg, Andrew Boswell, Sunny Vohra, Paul DeWinter, Bob Benton, Jay Firestone, Charles Low, John Stevens, Adam Thrussell, Richard Whelan. Co-producer: Sarada McDermott.

Crew: Director: Richard Loncraine. Screenplay: Meg Leonard, Nick Moorcroft. Camera (color, widescreen): John Pardue. Editor: Johnny Daukes. Music: Michael J. McEvoy.

With: Imelda Staunton, Timothy Spall, Celia Imrie, Joanna Lumley, David Hayman, John Sessions, Josie Lawrence, Phoebe Nicholls, Marianne Oldham, Sian Thomas, Indra Ové, Sonny Fowler.

More Film

  • Hugh Jackman Sings Happy Birthday to

    Hugh Jackman Leads Massive One-Man Show Crowd in 'Happy Birthday' for Ian McKellen

    Hugh Jackman may have had to skip Ian McKellen’s birthday party to perform his one-man show, “The Man, The Music, The Show,” but that didn’t mean he couldn’t celebrate his “X-Men” co-star’s 80th. Jackman took a moment at the Manchester Arena Saturday to lead the sold-out audience — some 50,000 strong — in a rendition [...]

  • Aladdin

    'Aladdin' Dominates International Box Office With $121 Million

    Disney’s “Aladdin” is showing plenty of worldwide drawing power with $121 million overseas for the weekend, opening in first place in nearly all international markets. The reboot of the 1992 animated classic has received strong family attendance with a significant gain on Saturday and Sunday. China leads the way with an estimated $18.7 million for [...]

  • Aladdin

    Box Office: 'Aladdin' Taking Flight With $105 Million in North America

    Disney’s live-action “Aladdin” is flying high with an estimated $105 million in North America during the four-day Memorial Day holiday weekend. It’s the sixth-highest Memorial Day weekend total ever, topping the 2011 mark of $103.4 million for “The Hangover Part II.” The top total came in 2007, when “Pirates of the Caribbean: At World’s End” [...]

  • Agustina San Martin Talks Cannes Special

    Agustina San Martin Talks Cannes Special Mention Winner ‘Monster God’

    CANNES – An exploration of the ramifications of God, “Monster God,” from Argentina’s Agustina San Martín, took a Special Mention – an effective runner’s up prize – on Saturday night at this year’s Cannes Film Festival short film competition. It’s not difficult to see why, especially when jury president Claire Denis own films’ power resists [...]

  • Atlantics

    Netflix Snags Worldwide Rights to Cannes Winners 'Atlantics,' 'I Lost My Body'

    Mati Diop’s feature directorial debut “Atlantics” and Jérémy Clapin’s animated favorite “I Lost My Body” have both been acquired by Netflix following wins at Cannes Film Festival. “Atlantics” was awarded the grand prix while “I Lost My Body” was voted the best film at the independent International Critics Week. The deals are for worldwide rights [...]

  • Stan Lee, left, and Keya Morgan

    Stan Lee's Former Business Manager Arrested on Elder Abuse Charges

    Stan Lee’s former business manager, Keya Morgan, was arrested in Arizona Saturday morning on an outstanding warrant from the Los Angeles Police Department. The LAPD’s Mike Lopez confirmed that the arrest warrant was for the following charges: one count of false imprisonment – elder adult; three counts of grand theft from elder or dependent adult, [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content