The Time of Their Lives (M)
Rating: 4 / 5
Major feature films often have young, slim and beautiful stars as their headliners.
And then along comes a movie like The Time of Their Lives, where all three stars are over 75, bringing a lifetime of experience and finesse to their fine performances.
Eighty-four-year-old Joan Collins (forever Alexis in Dynasty for many fans), 76-year-old Pauline Collins (remember Shirley Valentine?) and 75-year-old Franco Nero (Lancelot in the musical Camelot, opposite Vanessa Redgrave) star in this feel-good movie that proves there is definitely lots of life and talent in our later years.
Our first protagonist is faded movie star Helen, who is bored out of her brain in a retirement home, and longs to work and regain her film star status. Joan Collins obviously has a ball inhabiting this exaggerated, amoral character who turns ego and selfishness into an art form. Tough as nails on the outside, as the film progresses, we see there is quite a backstory to this deliciously outrageous character, as well as a touching hidden vulnerability.
Helen is desperate to attend a funeral in France of a famous film director, so she can be seen again and attract offers of work. As she quips to Pauline Collins’ character Priscilla, who she hijacks to help her get to France, “It’ll be like the Academy Awards—a bit sadder, but not much!”
Priscilla is a British housewife bullied by husband Frank (Ronald Pickup), whose heart has never recovered from a tragedy which she feels he blames her for. Meeting Helen means Priscilla is swept up into her madcap scheme, and she slowly discovers there is life beyond her sad existence with Frank.
Once in France they run out of petrol on their mature Thelma and Louise road trip, and are rescued by the handsome Franco Nero, wealthy artist Alberto, and accommodated at his palatial mansion.
While the film has some predictable plot developments, every so often there is a novel twist, which keeps the viewer guessing.
Without giving too much away, after some ups and downs, by the end of the film lives have been changed, mostly for the better, and our odd couple of Helen and Priscilla has found a way ahead to a positive future. We don’t know what that future will hold, but the upbeat ending assures us that while they may be in their senior years they still have a lot of living to do.
While the film is a work of fiction, in the final credits director Roger Goldby and the production team thank four grandmothers, two of whom are named Helen and Priscilla.
How much you will enjoy this film will depend on your age and stage of life, but for those of us who are old enough to remember these stars in younger days, The Time of Their Lives is a great escapist film that puts some lightness in a grey world.
Highlight: fabulous acting from film legends
Red flag: occasional nudity, coarse language and minor drug use
The Time of Their Lives is in cinemas 10 August. Warcry has 10 double in-season passes to give away thanks to Rialto Distribution, submit your entry by 10 August.