Gerald Wright's Movie Coverage
HOW ABOUT YOU
Directed by: Anthony Byrne
Running time: 90 minutes
Release date: November 14, 2008 (limited and exclusive at The Paris Theater, NY)
Genre: Comedy, Drama and Adaptation
Distributor: Strand Releasing
MPAA Rating: Not rated
A great ensemble brings luster to Maeve Binchy's short story "Hardcore". The source material that director Anthony Byrne adapts to the screen is an often funny and deeply human story of self-acceptance and the Christmas season cheer.
How About You tells the story of Ellie Harris (Hayley Atwell), a young restless and irresponsible woman left in charge of the elderly residential home over the Christomas holiday. The home is owned by her very controlling and extremely responsible older sister Kate (Orla Brady). Kate is forced to leave the home in the care of her younger sister for their ailing mother.
Most of the residents have left to spend their festive time with their families except for residents known as "The Hardcore". These are four cranky and troublesome senior citizens. There are the spinster sisters Hazel and Heather played by Academy Award nominee Imelda Staunton and Academy Award winner Brenda Fricker. These ladies are not elderly; however, they reside at the home because they can't cope with the outside world. Joss Ackland brilliantly plays retired judge Donald Vanston, a reformed alcoholic and one of the most articulate and sarcastic of the group. And last of this motley group of dysfunctional characters is six time Academy Award nominee and one time Academy Award winner Vanessa Redgrave who plays Georgia Platts a retired stage and film star, who longs for the celebrity status that has vanished as she got older.
Adding to Ellie and Kate's problems is that new potential residents are hesitant to join the community because of the reputation of "The Hardcore. Their reputation has placed them in this facility because no one else will take them. With few residents living and paying there, the home is falling into foreclosure. Hayley Atwell's character is perky and adds a lot of energy to a lively cast of misfits.
The narrative is predictable in the sense of everyone is mischievous yet that they learn to be nice to one another. However, in the case of How About You, predictability can actually be a joyful thing. As a central theme in the story is about youth learning from age, the twist is that age learns from youth. The compelling performances by the cast sparkle with humor, yet How About You remains in a dramatic format to keep the focus on the Christmas spirit of giving and caring.
It is great to see older actors continue in significant roles. This is a very rejuvenating movie.
FILM RATING (B+)