A romantic comedy featuring Peter Pettigrew and Dolores Umbridge. I’ve seen stranger things happen in film.
The story looks like it’s about a woman who just found out that her husband of many many years has been having an affair with her friend. In an attempt to escape, she lives with her kooky sister and joins her in a dance class where she meets new people and possibly strikes up a relationship with one of them.
Here’s the cast. Starring, we have Imelda Staunton (PADDINGTON 2 , MALEFICENT , and HARRY POTTER: ORDER OF THE PHOENIX ), Timothy Spall (EARLY MAN , DENIAL , HARRY POTTER: PRISONER OF AZKABAN , and THE CORRUPTED ), Celia Imrie (A CURE FOR WELLNESS , BRIDGET JONES’S DIARY , THE BORROWERS , HIGHLANDER , and the upcoming ONE DAY NOTICE ), and Joanna Lumley (PADDINGTON 2, ABSOLUTELY FABULOUS, THE MOVIE , CORPSE BRIDE , JAMES AND THE GIANT PEACH , and the upcoming ANDORRA ).
Now for the crew. Directing, we have Richard Loncraine, known for WIMBLEDON (2004). Co-writing the screenplay are Meg Leonard, making her writing debut (congrats, miss) and Nick Moorcroft (a bunch of stuff I’ve never heard of and upcoming films THE CORRUPTED and FISHERMAN’S FRIENDS ). Composing the score is Michael J. McEvoy, known for a bunch of shorts and documentaries. The cinematographer is John Pardue, known for THE BUNKER (2001). Finally, the editor is Johnny Daukes, making his feature film debut. Congrats, sir.
Overall, I think this is going to be a pretty cute little movie. Everyone looks like they’re having fun, I enjoy the cast, so I think I’ll enjoy this movie just fine.
This is my honest opinion of: FINDING YOUR FEET
After over thirty years of marriage, Sandra (Imelda Staunton), an upscale, snobbish woman, has just caught her husband, Mike (John Sessions), cheating on her with her friend, Pamela (Josie Lawrence). In a desperate effort to escape her problems, she bunks in with her estranged sister, Elizabeth “Bif” (Celia Imrie), a woman of high energy and carefree living. It isn’t long before Bif manages to convince Sandra to join her in her weekly dance classes, where Sandra meets the fun-loving Charlie (Timothy Spall) and soon learns to drop her guard and have more fun than he has in a long time.
Awe man… I kinda love this movie. By no means perfect, but I was charmed and I really enjoyed it.
Let’s get this out of the way, Staunton is fantastic here. On the one hand, she starts off playing this embittered woman who takes all of her frustrations out on everyone, only making her own situation worse. Basically, Sandra is written as the kind of character that the audience is supposed to find unlikable at first, but as the story progresses, you grow to like her. When we first see her, she thinks she’s better than everyone with that pish-posh persona, asking the taxi driver to take her bags, even though it’s not his job, judging the way her sister’s apartment is messy, you know, that kind of character. Even though you don’t excuse her behavior, you know where it comes from. She’s humiliated that her husband of thirty years, both with a title in their names, cheating on her left a scandal and she in pain. A woman like her with that many years dedicated to the marriage wouldn’t do a very good job of keeping those emotions bottled in. But, like I said, as the story progresses, and she learns to open up to those around her, you do grow to like her. To be perfectly honest, I have no idea when that turning point was. Maybe Staunton was just that good of an actress, or the movie jumped to it in the blink of an eye during a really uplifting scene that I eventually found myself liking her without knowing when that happened. Staunton will make you smile, laugh, even cry. A wonderful, all-encompassing performance.
Dear God, let’s talk about the other show-stopper, Spall as Charlie. Christ, I know this man is a renowned British actor and has enough talent under this fingernails that he he could flick a fraction of it at broom and it’ll win a Golden Globe, and I know he’s a popular actor thanks to his turn in the Harry Potter franchise, but I’ve only ever seen him in those movies and this bums me the crap out, man. He’s so damned good in this! He’s charming. When Charlie is around Sandra, he’s polite, but isn’t afraid to call her out on her shit, and rightfully so. But he doesn’t constantly lay on the teasing every time, he does have his patient side. There’s a bit where they’re paired as dance partners in class and after they kind of mess up because they’re struggling to take control, he takes the lead in the dance and they do fine, leading to a very cute connecting moment between the two characters. But seriously, bring a box of tissues with you because Spall will rip your bleeding heart out when the drama takes center stage. You see, Charlie is married, but his wife, Lilly (Sian Thomas), is deep in Alzheimer’s. In one scene, she’ll ask to see Charlie, but doesn’t recognize the loving man in front of her is in fact Charlie. In another scene, he’ll be cutting up her food and hand her the silverware, to which she’ll wig out and struggle to get away from him. Again, not recognizing him. I’d go on and on, but I really don’t want to give more than that away. I’m really not kidding about that box of tissues. This movie ripped tears out of me on three separate occasions.
While this movie does have its fair share of drama, the comedy really shines through most of the time. In fact, there’s some seriously dark humor too, and anyone who knows me really well knows I’m a sucker for dark comedies. There’s a bit where Bif brings home her date and they’re about to have sex, but just before she’s about to get fully undressed, her date literally dies on the sofa with a smile on his face and the next scene has Bif commenting, “The man died with a smile on his face. That’s the least we can all hope for.” Poignant and humorous.
Some other standout scenes include Sandra throwing her husband’s trophies into a wood chipper and it’s just raining shards of tennis trophies. That was a fun scene. A great bit where Sandra is cleaning out Bif’s refrigerator and throwing away all of the expired shit. “Oh don’t tell me you buy into that ‘best by’ conspiracy! Here, ‘best by 19… oh, blimey.” Yeah, and this movie doesn’t take place in a particular decade, it takes place in the present day. That got a serious chuckle out of me, especially how she starts rapidly throwing away things in the trash as she reads the “best by” years, not saying a single word mind you. All she does is give a disgusted look. And, well honestly, so long as Spall is on screen, you’re guaranteed a great laugh.
More on the dark humor. After Bif tells Sandra and Charlie that she’s got stage four lung cancer, we also learn that she’s not backing down from the dance competition. Sandra, naturally, exclaims something like, “You’re not seriously thinking about going, are you?” To which Bif responds with, “Oh heavens no. I was thinking of just sitting here waiting to die.” Dude, I probably have a one-way ticket to Hell for laughing as hard as I did.
But like I said before, this movie is imperfect, so it’s time for me to transition into those pesky negatives, of which there aren’t too many.
For one thing, this movie does hit a few tropes. You know when someone in a movie is an inexperienced dancer and they go into a dance class and while everyone around the character is keeping up with the moves flawlessly, the main character is comically flailing and struggling. Yeah, that happens, meaning it’s not as funny as the movie thinks. And as if some idiot had a list of clichés to include in the flick, we also have the infamous “end of second act fight scene,” where a pair of characters discover something about the other and causes them to separate angrily, even though we know that they’re going to get back together by the end of the story. Ugh… so sick and tired of this one.
Some of the editing bothered me. One minute, there’s a scene that’s legitimately heartbreaking and really tugs on your heartstrings, but then the immediate following scene has another character bouncing and dancing to a song with barely enough time to catch our breaths.
I do have to voice a relative concern that I’ve been noticing lately. In nearly every single movie I’ve seen where the lead actor is an older person, from THE HERO (2017), LUCKY (2017), and LEISURE SEEKER (2018), every single one of these movies has one common theme: old people are sick and are dying. That’s… morbid and insanely repetitive. Look, I get it, circle of life and all that. We’ve all got a number and we’re all just waiting for it to be called. Thumbs up, but… why is this the only story that we can tell? Can’t we just show an older man and an older woman just having fun and living an active and healthy lifestyle without seeing them take three different kinds of pills to stave off cancer?! Seriously, what is filmmaking’s aversion to showing healthy older people?
Overall, like I said, I kind of adore this movie. Yeah, it hits a few too many clichés, preventing it from being truly great, but there’s so much heart and cuteness to the story, with wonderful actors knocking it out of the park, making Staunton and Spall an incredible pair to watch. With an equally great supporting cast, this movie has just the right balance of heartwarming comedy and romance, and some harsh, but engaging drama. And with tears running down my face on multiple occasions, you bet your sweet arse that I’m recommending this one, even at full price. If it opens to more theaters in the coming weeks, I’d totally be open to seeing this again at least once more. I don’t think it’s one of the great rom-coms ever, but it’s definitely worth it if this is your cup of tea. Every really good movie deserves a second viewing.
My honest rating for FINDING YOUR FEET: a strong 4/5