Wednesday, 1 September 2010

Growing Older…and loving it…

I don’t know many old people (I use the term loosely), in fact I don’t any old people. The lone grandparent I knew died when I was a child, and other than the odd teacher my parents are the oldest people I really know (and they’re not even sixty). Add that to the fact they’re divorced and it’d suffice to say any amount of senescence on screen I see is vicariously enjoyed – what’s rarer and more enjoyable – is seeing characters growing old together. When they are seen on screen, it’s often as an afterthought. These five (to some extent) are exceptions.
       
Helen Mirren and Christopher Plummer in The Last Station
I saw The Last Station so long after the fact that it never managed to get a mention in my year end musings on 2009 – which were already late to begin with. I like the film, and its strongest moments came when the eldest thespians Mirren and Plummer were on screen together. Helen Mirren is, admittedly, a handful and Plummer is a perfect match for her. Though I do like Robbie Turner, I wish the film’s focus was more on the aging couple.
        
Gena Rowlands and James Garner in The Notebook
Speaking of which, I’d have preferred The Notebook if it focused more on Gena and James and less on Rachel and Ryan. It’s ironic, of the young lovers I’m least enchanted by McAdams’ performance but with the aging couples I’m absolutely smitten with Gena Rowlands (best in show for me). Any emotion that exudes from The Notebook is too often a result of emotional manipulation but the connection between Garner and Rowlands is too beautiful to ignore.
          
Julie Christie and Gordon Pinsent in Away From Her
This was another couple struck with Alzheimer’s. For obvious reasons they needed to be apart just as much as they were together, and of course Julie Christie being her luminous self always managed to garner the majority of our attention. For all it’s plot though, Away From Her was at its best in those finite moments where the two would just take up the screen doing the most mundane of tasks. Perhaps it wasn’t life changing cinema – but it was beautiful to watch.
         
Katharine Hepburn and Spencer Tracy in Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner?
The drive to the ice-cream parlour will always remain as my favourite scene in a long list of favourite scenes in this one. Do they have an unfair advantage? Probably. Still, all real life couples don’t exist so beautifully on screen and they’re just so nice together it’s beyond words. I’ll ignore the annoying precociousness of Katharine Houghton (Really, that’s what Kate and Spence’s daughter would be like?) and just enjoy the moments where Christina is willing to bend to her husband’s whim…not because she must, but just because she likes humouring him.
           
Katharine Hepburn and Henry Fonda in On Golden Pond
Incidentally, this couple waited decades before they ever met each other. Yes, they’re two of their generation’s greatest so we shouldn’t shirk at how good they are at pretending to love each other for years, but it still amazes me. On Golden Pond’s cast is all around greatness but no one can match the sincerity (fake or not) in the relationship between the leads. Who knew that talking to birds in a lake could be romantic? Who knew that people over seventy could be romantic?
               
Kate and Henry will always be the summit when it comes to elderly love for me. What say you?

7 comments:

Walter L. Hollmann said...

Foolish mortal that I am, I've still yet to catch either Hepburn film. Pinsent and Christie are amazing. That scene in the notebook where Rowlands realizes who Garner is a heartbreaker, followed by her relapse. And Mirren and Plummer were the heart and soul of that film. The movie's good, but Plummer's performance is tops.

Castor said...

Nice post Andrew! Glad you mentioned Away from Her, good unsung movie with great performances from Pinsent and Christie. Odd that you were least enchanted with McAdams' performance when most people thought hers was the strongest. And you call me strange! ;) In any case, the old couple does give the final emotional blows of The Notebook but I think it's pent-up emotions that is built up throughout the movie.

joe burns said...

Good choices!


Hey, if you can, can you make up/get a Judy Garland meme? That would be fun!

joe burns said...

Good choices!


Hey, if you can, can you make up/get a Judy Garland meme? That would be fun!

Alex Ramon said...

Totally agreed on AWAY FROM HER.

How's about Tandy & Freeman in DRIVING MISS DAISY?

Andrew: Encore Entertainment said...

walter really? i'm surprised you haven't seen guess who's coming to dinner. i'm that much more emotionally attached to it because it's spencer's last film, and the end of a long run of kate+spence films.

castor i was thinking of you and nick (cinema romantico) when i wrote that bit on the notebook. rachel mcadams has never really impressed me yet, and she's the weakest of the four leads in that for me.

joe after the glee meme, i think i'm quitting meme, but since you insist i'll create a quasi-meme post later today for judy.

alex hmmm, never thought of tandy and freeman. the romance wasn't the key there. i haven't seen that one in a while, though.

Alex Ramon said...

You're right, Andrew, not romance, but certainly respect, caring, affection... The final scene gets me every time...