Okay. Young Steve suggested this film. He’d taken his other half to see it in the cinema, pleased to have found an English-language film about as far from Bollywood in style as…the last road trip film Deepika Padukone pitched up in (the terrific Piku (2015). I made him admit he also likes the title: Finding Fanny.
Now, this is fascinating. An old soul discovers a letter he sent to his beloved many a decade ago was never delivered. In it, he had declared his love and now – riven with layers of regret – he determines to find that woman and tell her his feelings. For they are undimmed. Who hasn’t been there, eh?
Alongside him, is the most beautiful woman on the planet as a young widow and friend. She is also leading a life of regret, having agreed to marry a man who didn’t survive the decorations on their cake let alone a of life of knowing he married well above his weight.
And she has a mother-in-law with a mighty arse and a lover’s soul, resisting the earthy urges of the local artist, who is into large women. Both seniors, they are played for lusty comedy and cheery caricature – until they aren’t.
And then there is the driver – the man who should have gone for the most beautiful woman on the planet before his friend did because – idiot – she would have said yes.
In many ways, they’re all Finding Fanny the long way round. They pile into a brave little car-that-can, setting off for Fanny’s house. She’s moved, but left a crazed Russian to make late middle-age look intolerable…
This is a lovely film. We watched the English language version, which wasn’t easy on older ears with accent issues, but hey-ho, we concentrated and earned the laughs. A light comedy in most places, Finding Fanny also has a mordant edge. The mother-in-law brings a cat with her that dies early, then the others hide it. For quite a while beyond the not-stinky phase of most corpses. It’s not the first time death is this film’s buddy. So, weird but funny.
This is all about the old, young and regretful reaching out for each other. Ferdie the soul who lost Fanny is played by the terrific Naseeruddin Shah in full-on character mode. Sweet, nervous and tender, he elicits sympathy no matter how silly he has been. Angie is played by Deepika Padukone, channeling the modernity of Piku (2015) if not the rage. She lends the film a gentleness and regret that contrasts rather splendidly with the oldsters’ comic manoeuvres. Dimple Kapadia and Pankaj Kapur are Rosie, the mother-in-law and Don Pedro the artist. There are broad laughs and an unexpected coldness on the way with those two… And finally – steering clear of late-arriving spoilers – there is Arjun Kapoor as Savio, driver, dreamer, and fuckwit who should be so lucky if a second chance with Angie comes his way.
Oh, then it turns out they went the wrong direction and run out of petrol. Ferdie heads off to get some, whilst the remaining couples change their worlds in a multi-scene evening under the moon. Kapadia barrels into Rosie’s underlying sadness, Kapur into Don Pedro’s cruelty, Padukone and Kapoor into the aforementioned reaching out and oddly shocking intimacy. In a field. Where things can be right if you take a chance.
You might expect the old to be laughed at as silly or shameful in their passions, the young admired for the sincerity of their intent. What is lovely about Finding Fanny, apart from the sunlight and cool of its comedy, is that all the people present are a bit silly. The yearning of the title runs through them: they are shy, lost and – yeah – found. The performances are bang on the money and the TV room, despite a couple of accent-related rewinds and for fuck’s saking from Vinay, loved it.
It’s got a definite European tang, including a decidedly un-Bollywood running time. This is made up for by a telling resonance.
And the laughs.
And some properly weird credits…