The end of term U3A session at the Lexi. It is difficult to assess if the film was appreciated by all to the same degree. Those who contributed expressed delight and loved the film. There were some reservations about the mother’s character veracity, about the closing remarks on love, but on the whole the appreciation was expressed by generous clapping. However in one to one conversations after the open discussion, two men expressed very critical views: no tension, predictable, every possible tear jerking device. These reactions follow the general trend in that the reviewers (men in general) thought the film too sweet, while the general audience (our audience is mainly female) loved it.
I will quote Peter Bradshaw in the Guardian in his vicious ageist mode: Gerard Depardieu leaves a trail of saccharine behind him in this sickly tale of friendship between a smalltown chump and an old lady. You really will need a sweet tooth for this one. Or rather a complete set of dentures made out of Mars Bars and creme Eggs.
Why does this film stimulate this sort of reaction? It is one of the rare films where the old woman is sympathetic and even lovable. It is one of the rare films where child neglect, absent fathers, grief, loving relationships and friendships are treated with such a light touch. It is a film where the old woman is seen as having something to contribute, where the old woman is engaged in a mutual respectful relationship. Where the old woman has a past as a scientist. Where the old woman is seen with all her wrinkles and bad teeth but such an engaging smile and lively brain, but where the old woman is physically deteriorating also.
A sweet, sickly film? Or a film that hints on the important role that many old women do play in real life as opposed to the grotesque old woman so often seen in films?