REVIEW: Golden Years
Bernard Hill, Virginia McKenna, Simon Callow, Una Stubbs, Phil Davis
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…a gentle comedy with something to say…
Mainstream cinema is hardly bereft of films where groups of the disenfranchised decide to stick it to The Man. What it does tend to have very little of is films where these groups break past the age barrier of middle aged and beyond. Instead, films tend to dismiss the idea that OAPs have enough energy to stick anything to anyone. The Golden Years, directed by John Miller, is a British caper flick that tries to reset the balance and falls short of doing so.
Bernard Hill (Lord Of The Rings) plays Arthur, a retiree living out his autumn years alongside his wife, Martha (Virginia McKenna). Upon losing his pension and access to free healthcare all in one day, Arthur decides to rob his local bank; an act that he manages to pull off accidently after getting cold feet. With the media and authorities on the lookout for a slick group of thieves, Arthur and Martha wind up using the preconceived notions about pensioners to rob further banks and use the proceeds to help pay off their friends’ debts.
Ostensibly a comedy, in the style of The Ealing Studios romps of yore, Miller and his co-writers make the mistake of trying to inject a heavy dose of Ken Loach social realism into the proceedings that never feel natural. The jokes are jarringly put to one side every time Arthur takes a moment to lament the plight of his generation. This is a gentle comedy with something to say, but it needs a lighter hand to mesh the two ideals. With an ensemble cast that includes Simon Callow, Una Stubbs, and Phil Davis, it’s great to see a variety of veteran actors doing what they do best. Another polish of the script and tighter editing, however, would elevate this to something a little more weighty.