CRUMBLIES… 1 crumblie

Oh dear God. This took me from a cheery afternoon of flirty good humour to scrabbling through Mad Maud’s knickers drawer looking for that stuff she pretends is morphine. The Golden Years had sapped me of fun. If it’s in your Netflix queue for later viewing, perhaps you should watch twenty-one series of Star Trek first…you may well be satisfyingly dead before the moment comes.

Okay. Buckle up.

That nice Nick Knowles off the telly turns out to have had a vanity project. Weirdly, it was to make a properly bad film. Badly structured, badly characterised, shockingly dialogued. The acting, however, is from a range of top-quality, wrinkly British talent who probably thought helping out that nice Nick Knowles from the telly would get them a new house with an arse-focused jet wash toilet if wiping is a challenge these days. Pity them.

Golden Years is exactly like Going in Style. Old folk have their pensions wildly reduced because their old company went tits up and the world is evil, which justifies stealing money from a completely different organisation: a bank. Well, a building society. And a mutual at that, so the theft is from its members and not some evil shareholders. So…um…never mind research, eh, boys?

And their social club comes under threat, so more stealing.

And…look, I think we’re supposed to adore their brave stand against the evil establishment. Bernard Hill and Virginia McKenna show the importance of reading the script before signing the contract as they pootle around National Trust properties whilst invading more banks with masks and fruit guns. To get money. To do the Robin Hood thing. So, not about pensions after all…forget that hint of logic.

They are wonderful actors, mind. The promise of what they could be doing with a good script keeps things going. This script, alas, is like one of Old Clive’s anecdotes about Malaya and the sand-woman he built out of loneliness… There’s no logic and it won’t end.

Oh. And, dear researchless writers, for the record, by which I mean, for the fucking obvious, bankers’ bonuses are not kept in large piles of cash in the vaults of provincial banks. This film is a professionally-tickled bollock away from the charm needed to get away with that.

Old Jack despaired of what was on screen and took a glance at IMDb to suss the background of the writers. One is a presenter (that nice one off the telly), another directs TV you’ve never heard of, and the third moved from script-reader for film companies, to script editor, to writer. Hmmm. Presumably superficial characterisation, no obvious internal character drives, pitying and pitiable vignettes of wrinklies and jokes below the standards of most ten year-olds were the only way to a second reading.

Sigh.

This could have been so good.

It has Bernard Hill, Virginia McKenna, Phil Davis, Ellen Thomas, Una Stubbs, Sue Johnston

Simon Callow! In a gallingly flat, misfiring rehash of his Four Weddings moment…

There’s even Alun Armstrong, for pity’s sake!

Excellence abounds. There are whole scenes, mostly involving chatting at tables, where you can see the cast straining to communicate subtext. Or comedy contrasts. Or something to lift this flat bread into a nutty loaf.

Vanity, vanity. What crimes are committed in thy name?