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Monday, May 28, 2018

Finding Your Feet

A light, fluffy middle-to-late-age romcom that's far more enjoyable than it should be.

This review is also on Channel 24

What it's about

Sandra is a snobbish, upper-middle-class woman whose life is upturned when she discovers her husband having an affair with her best friend at his retirement party. Storming out of her old, privileged life, she moves in with her estranged older sister, Bif, whose bohemian, free-spirited life couldn't be more different.

What we thought

Finding Your Feet Рa title, incidentally, that I find astonishingly difficult to remember Рis a big-hearted, quaintly British romantic-comedy-drama about an older woman finding a new lease on life by embracing the small joys of life after reconnecting with her quirky, joie-de-vivre-living sister who teaches her that all the money in the world can't replace a life well lived and true love comes from those who respect and love who you are, not for what they want you to be. As this setup might suggest, it's a film that isn't so much unafraid of clich̩ as it is one that chases after and warmly embraces every last clich̩ it can get its mitts on.

How much of a problem this is, though, largely depends on what you bring to the film and what you want out of it. More cynical viewers would do well to bring a sick bag in with them, while the more romantic and sentimental among us would probably do better with a box of tissues. The latter will certainly have a better night out with it than their more curmudgeonly counterparts. Me, I'm somewhere in the middle.

Finding Your Feet is a film that so gleefully wallows in its own obviousness and its own sentimentality that the film feels utterly guileless rather than manipulative, while the sheer pedigree of talent, both in front of and behind the camera, ensures that it pretty much gets away with it too. I would be lying if I said I didn't laugh during it, didn't enjoy spending time with the characters and the top-notch cast who bring them warmly to life and didn't have me ol' heart warmed at (most of) the right moments. I would also be lying, though, if I denied rolling my eyes more than once and wishing that it would be just a little – or really, at all – subversive; a bit less afraid of shades of grey in anything other than the perennially overcast English skies and drab architecture.

It's not exactly true that the characters aren't well drawn; they do (mostly) feel like real(ish) people with real(ish) lives and the actors are so uniformly brilliant that they easily paper over any flaws in the writing, but it's divided so simplistically between “goodies” and “baddies” that it makes even the most old-fashioned superhero story look morally complex by comparison. Sandra's rich, influential husband is every bit as ghastly as her potential suitor-to-be is thoroughly decent; her rich friends every bit as awful as her bohemian sister and her circle of friends are wonderful. And, yes, it's impossible to miss the laughably crude levels of class-warfare going on here too.

Again, though, while a bit of bite would go a long way in making the film easier to take in its sappiest moments, it remains impossible for me to take too much against it. Richard Loncrane is a veteran British filmmaker and the film is put together with exactly the kind of professionalism that that would suggest – though its sparkly but awfully clumsy script by writers Meg Leonard (with no writing credits to her name) and Nick Moorcraft (with, frankly, fairly tepidly-received writing credits to his) understandably feels rather less sure of itself.

I could, of course, also spend an entire review going over just how great each and every one of these performances are: from our two leading ladies to the always brilliant but never more loveable Timothy Spall to the unbeatable supporting cast, but, really, what's the point? If you don't know the names, you know the faces, and you know just how good – and effortlessly good – they are. That they elevate even the weakest material in the film is a given too and even if the rest of the film wasn't such a warm hug of a movie, it would easily be worth seeing for them alone.

In short, Finding Your Feet is exactly what you expect it to be. Make of that what you will.



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