Director: Julie Gavras
Screenwriters: Julie Gavras and Olivier Dazat
Runtime: 88 mins.
Australian release date: 23 February 2012
Billed as ‘a romantic comedy for the ages’, Late Bloomers, directed by Julie Gavras, takes a scatter gun approach to the problems facing those about to enter the ‘third age’. In trying to deal with too many issues, Gavras fails to treat any of them entirely successfully; there are story strands that go nowhere, their resolutions apparently left on the cutting room floor, and other issues are glossed over too lightly.
Mary (Isabella Rossellini), an Italo/Brit, is approaching the big ‘6-O’. After an episode of memory loss, she decides that changes need to be made to accommodate her fast approaching senior status. To the frustration of her monosyllabic partner of many years, Adam (William Hurt), Mary fits out their home with aids for the aged. To engage her mind and body, she does community work and set herself an exercise routine at the local pool. Meanwhile Adam is facing his own problems as his career appears to be winding down; he is a highly successful architect, with no plans to retire, but the commissions are drying up.
Mary’s gal-pal Charlotte (Joanna Lumley), is the voice of reason in the chaos that ensues. She is an active character still involved in women’s issues and leading a productive, if lonely existence. Adam, on the other hand, has a rather tormented friendship with real estate mogul, Richard (Simon Callow), who laughs off impending age while battling the notion that he has become “Frankenstein’s monster”, kept alive only with the aid of various medical prostheses. Richard wants Adam to design a state-of-the-art retirement village but Adam resists, presumably thinking himself much too young to be working on such a project.
Credit must go to Rossellini for looking so damn good. She was the face of Lancôme for years and, unlike many actresses on the silver screen, she looks ‘normal’, having allowed herself to age gracefully. I found myself distracted by her sense of style which, at times, was more watchable than the unfolding drama. There are some splendid visual moments in this film, particularly the opening scene, where Mary, resplendent in red, is sitting on a bench in an all-white foyer. As the camera pulls back, she is framed like a painting.
Late Bloomers has a guaranteed audience (dare I say women, and men, of a certain age…) but it has the tendency to come across as a tad condescending. It would have been more believable if the characters were turning 70, as let’s face it, 60 is the new 50! I would suggest that instead of being pre-occupied with her approaching senior years, Mary would have been much better off to adopt the saying ‘carpe diem’. After all, those really entering the last phase of their lives are probably thinking, as Mary might put it, ‘Grazie dio, vivo ancora!’ (Thank God, I’m still alive!)