Golden Years 

 

Half

 

 

A group of elderly citizens take to a life of crime to solve the mounting pension crisis.

 

Golden Years

Silver going for gold: Bernard Hill

 

And it all started so promisingly. The words of Dylan Thomas, scrawled across the screen, make their point: “Old age should burn and rave at close of day.” And shortly afterwards David Bowie augments the mood with his immortal lyrics, “Don't let me hear you say life's/Taking you nowhere/Angel.” Visually, the film opens with what looks like a tenement block, but as the camera pulls back we realise it’s actually the facia of a Roberts’ radio broadcasting more bad news for the elderly. And as the silver-haired dramatis personae totter about their daily rounds of bingo, bowls and biscuits, we see the retirement they have planned start to slip through their arthritic fingers.

 

Even more annoying than the joys of dental inconvenience and hearing loss is the jargon used to shut them out of the brave new world, meaningless buzzwords fudging an awful truth. A nurse at an old people’s home argues that the inmates are fed a “balanced nutritional offering,” or ‘pot noodles’ in everyday language. Meanwhile, a bank manager, whose vernacular falls on deaf ears, finally explains to Arthur (Bernard Hill): “With all due respect, it’s economics.” You see, not only has Arthur lost his pension (due to a case of corporate liquidation) but he has to find £300 a month to pay for the tablets for his wife’s Crohn's disease (they live in the wrong post code to merit NHS subsidies). It’s all downhill for Arthur until, purely by accident, he knocks down a security guard outside a bank. And, in the blink of a rheumy eye, he walks off with the cash: all £50,000 of it. It was so easy he decides to make a habit of it…

 

Much of this is enormous fun and one suspects, initially at least, that this could do for old age pensioners what The Full Monty did for unemployed steel workers (there’s even a spot of nudity, thank you Simon Callow). With its cosy eccentrics and Cotswold villages, it does look tailor-made for the grey pound – if only it were better. But not only does the plot have more holes than a geriatric’s cardigan, there’s a patronising air that borders on the offensive. And then there are the risible caricatures: Simon Callow’s rakish amateur thesp is an embarrassment, as is the narcissistic, snarling cop played by the film’s executive producer Brad Moore (who looks like Ricky Gervais with a tan). Which is a shame as such reliable regulars as Bernard Hill, Virginia McKenna and Alun Armstrong put in such sterling work. In the end, the film dissolves into arch silliness, a state that would not have been tolerated by the likes of Judi Dench and Maggie Smith.

 

JAMES CAMERON-WILSON

 

Cast: Bernard Hill, Virginia McKenna, Sue Johnston, Phil Davis, Brad Moore, Mark Williams, Una Stubbs, Ellen Thomas, Simon Callow, Alun Armstrong, Nigel Allen.

 

Dir John Miller, Pro Mark Foligno, Ex Pro Brad Moore, Andrea Coates, Stephen Coates and Nick Knowles, Screenplay John Miller, Jeremy Sheldon and Nick Knowles, Ph Adam Lincoln, Pro Des Myra Lewis, Ed Dan Lincoln, Music Neil Athale, Costumes Georgina Napier.

 

MoliFilms Entertainment-Miracle Communications.

96 mins. UK. 2016. Rel: 29 April 2016. Cert. 12A.