Lovely, Still - out now on DVD

Monday, 09 May 2011 10:34

If I told you that “Lovely, Still” is a movie about old-age romance at Christmas time, I would imagine most people would be reaching for the off switch in seconds. I implore you not to be so hasty though, as this spellbinding movie has a lot more to offer, including fantastic performances from the two Oscar-winning leads, enchanting music and visuals, and a truly blinding twist that sends the film off into a whole new direction.

Martin Landau of Space: 1999 and Mission: Impossible fame is Robert Malone, a tired and lonely old man. He has an easy job in a local supermarket, and finds some pleasure in drawing sketches. One day he leaves the house with the front door ajar, and returns later to find a complete stranger in his lounge. It turns out to be Mary (Ellen Burstyn – Big Love, “The Exorcist”), who has just moved into the house opposite.

Lovely, Still - on DVDA brief moment of fear and confusion on Robert’s part turns rapidly into a budding relationship, which in turn blossoms into a wonderful romance. Both parties are all too aware of their advanced ages and the gnawing gaps in their lives, and consequently are keen to move things forwards at a pace. Robert, however is quite shy and withdrawn, and seeks relationship guidance from his colleagues at the supermarket.

Everything appears to be going fantastically well, and Robert is having the time of his life. However, each time he goes to sleep he has troubling dreams featuring unsettling swirling patterns and flashes of images that he cannot make out. Over the road, Mary’s daughter Alex (Elizabeth Banks – 30 Rock, “The Next Three Days”) keeps cautioning her mother, as though there is some reason why she ought not to be rushing into a relationship with her new neighbour.

These elements of the story inject a troublingly oblique, dark undertone that means that even though the couple are enjoying themselves, we know there is more here than meets the eye.

I cannot reveal more without spoiling the twist, but it really does add an entirely new layer to the plot, and helps the film avoid being a standard love story, albeit one with great acting and direction. For the most part, however, this is a romantic comedy with the emphasis on the romance. The comedy is gentle but charmingly played, and the balance is well judged by first-time director Nicholas Fackler.

Landau’s performance is incredible, perfectly capturing the vulnerabilities of frail old age pensioners who fear they have little left to live for, and may not wake up tomorrow, and who are amazed when anyone shows the slightest interest in what they think. He has some lovely scenes with Mike, the supermarket manager played by Adam Scott (Parks and Recreation, “Piranha”). The two of them chime brilliantly; Mike thinks he is smart and cool, but really is just a loveable schmuck. Burstyn plays Mary with radiant warmth but also reveals weakness and apprehension for what the future holds.

The only extra on the disc is a trailer, which thankfully does not reveal this excellent movie’s big secret. The lack of a commentary track really is a shame, as there are some fascinating themes woven into the tale, and plenty of visual touches and pointers that could have been expanded upon.

“Lovely, Still” (2008) is out now on DVD, courtesy of Matchbox Films. The main feature has a running time of 92 minutes approx, carries a ‘12’ certificate and retails for £15.99, or less from www.culttvstore.com

Last modified on Thursday, 10 May 2012 16:37

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