Old Jack, your trusty guide to movies for the old and fading, watched this after young Steve had a go, passed out from the boredom, and Mrs Steve stabbed him in the throat with a Biro. Turned out to be a giant gobbet of phlegm and not a swallowed tongue, so, awkward. But at least he’s alive, even if he can only mouth things and wave for the next six months.
Because I love my boy dearly, I took up the baton and sat through Late Bloomers, its tale of low-key middle-aged despair, mutual infidelity and – ultimately – faintly creepy rolling around in a graveyard. At a funeral.
Isabella Rossellini is Mary, a retired teacher converting bits of her home to prepare for decrepitude. Maudlin much? She’s doing this about twenty years early if you ask me, but is startled by proper moments of memory loss. Like all people caught in bourgeois enclaves do, she has a friendly trip to the MRI scanner and is told there are no signs of dementia. There are plenty of signs of being fucking irritating, mind, fondling her own neck wrinkles, swinging through the gym café missing the impact those buttocks had in the ’70s, and building a distance from her husband.
William Hurt is Adam, an architect from a firm that set itself up to take on the shockingly dull briefs that everyone else ran away from. I missed the examples given, though suspect museum signage, staplers and car parks were on their list of triumphs. And then Adam takes the hump at being asked to revitalise an old people’s home – what with being old. Well, fuck him, I say, we need lapdancing rooms, sexy vibro- chairs and stab-proof visitor sofas like any other forward-thinking penitentiary. Adam is down about his age and starts working with the young hotties of the firm, basking in their youthful glow late into the night, building a distance from his wife.
The stars are so much better than this humourless drab. They glide through their scenes in an Indie-sensitive fug, seemingly aware but not engaged with the places jokes should be.
The rest of the film is formula: guess what Mary does with flirty Peter at the gym (Hugo Speer giving it good I-see-you-through-the-wrinkles) and Adam does with the admiring Maya at the firm (Arta Dobroshi taking the careful lead in the new relationship)? Even the liveliness coming off the Britishly British support – maturely friendly Joanna Lumley, contained randy Simon Callow, bless-him Leslie Phillips, and bloody-hell-that’s Doreen Mantle – doesn’t gift the audience any memorable moments or fresh angles. They underline this world as one of the middle and old age, all rife with disappointment and guilty attraction to youth, but…sigh.
It’s all a bit dull. Amazingly, even in a scene with la Rossellini exercising in a swimming pool with colourful floats and a crowd of younger ladies. A thousand times better than Roxie (2014), it has that same whiff of flat self-indulgence about it.
I asked young Steve for his vote and he mimed three crumblies whilst gurgling gently. Old Jack agrees.