Elsa & Fred (2014)

elsaandfred_2014_poster
Elsa & Fred (2014)
  • Time: 94 min
  • Genre: Comedy | Drama | Romance
  • Director: Michael Radford
  • Cast: Shirley MacLaine, Christopher Plummer, Marcia Gay Harden, James Brolin

Storyline:

Elsa And Fred is the story of two people who, at the end of the road, discover that it’s never too late to love. After losing his wife, Fred (Christopher Plumer) feels disturbed, confused and alone, so his daughter (Marcia Gay Harden) helps move him into a small apartment where he meets Elsa (Shirley Maclaine). From that moment on, everything changes. Elsa bursts into Fred’s life like a whirlwind, determined to teach him that the time he has left to live—be it more or less—is precious and that he should enjoy it as he pleases.

2 reviews

  • Some might call Elsa & Fred schmaltzy, sentimental and sitcomish. Yes, it is all of those things but this remake of the 2005 Spanish-Argentinian romance is also touching, affectionate and full of charm.

    Fred (Christopher Plummer) is a grouchy widower who is happy to spend his days alone and in bed despite the efforts of his nagging daughter Lydia (Marcia Gay Harden), his loving grandson Michael (Jared Gilman) and sassy caretaker Laverne (Erika Alexander). His next door neighbour Elsa (Shirley MacLaine), on the other hand, is a vivacious and whimsical soul who has two sons, the dependable Raymond (Scott Bakula) and struggling artist Alec (Reg Rogers), the latter of which is perfectly content to be mooching off his mother.

    A dented car and a burst pipe bring Elsa and Fred together. She chides him for always lying in bed, he wonders why she’s always on her feet. She talks passionately of her favourite film La Dolce Vita; her dream in life would be to go to Rome and recreate the iconic scene wherein the buxom Anita Ekberg wades into the Trevi Fountain and is adored by Marcello Mastroianni. Fred, with 40 years at a telecommunications jobs and an unhappy marriage under his belt, has laughed little in his 80 years. He doesn’t quite believe her tales of being a music teacher, a dietician, a restaurant owner, or Picasso painting her portrait. Yet he can’t help but be drawn to her unflappable optimism.

    Elsa & Fred benefits enormously from the star wattage of its two leads, who seem to enjoy the pleasure of each other’s company. It’s a joy to bask in the glow of their cinematic romance. During a dinner, he questions the true nature of their relationship, prompting Elsa to plainly state her feelings for him. His feelings for her are the same and she delights in his smile, his laugh and the blush that suffuses his face. It’s a lovely scene and there’s something about it and the film in general that earns the sentiment rather than manipulates it.

    By no means a great love story, the film does suffer from the surrounding stock characters, competent direction from Michael Radford, and plot points that make little sense. Still, MacLaine and Plummer are superb partners in their characters’ last dance with love.

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  • After a very delayed release, Michael Radford’s romantic comedy Elsa & Fred has made it here to Australia. The film stars two giants of cinema, Shirley Maclaine and Christopher Plummer in the titular roles. But with a cheesy love-story about an elderly couple, this may be a case of wasted talent.

    Set in New Orleans (although you’d never know it), Elsa & Fred follows Elsa (Shirley Maclaine) and Fred (Christopher Plummer), two elderly residents in an apartment building that are opposites in every possible way. Fred is a recent widow and has been forced to move by his daughter, Lydia (Marcia Gay Harden), he’s bitter and takes a morbid view on life. Elsa, who’s next door, often seems to live in her own dreamy romantic state. She consistently lies to paint a better picture of herself, and dreams of Rome, taking the persona of Anita Ekberg in the film La Dolce Vita. After what seems like an incredibly short period of time, these two opposites attract (*spoiler alert* if you haven’t seen the poster.)

    This is one of the corniest movies I’ve ever had to sit through. It tells a story that’s been told a thousand times before, the elderly couple hitting it off, opposites attracting etc, and it’s been told better before. Clearly I’m not the intended audience, but similar films like The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel series manage to pitch down to a broader audience. The film is a remake of a Spanish-Argentine film of the same name, perhaps it’s better, I don’t know. They try to draw attention away from the clichés by subverting the stereotypes to make it more interesting. Look at Elsa, she’s an eccentric elderly woman who listens to rap music, how original! Give me a break, you can feel the manipulation. The climax of Elsa & Fred I actually quite liked, but it’s still extremely corny. The romantic story is a sweet premise but the delivery is appalling. At one point in the film, Elsa’s artistic son unveils a painting that he calls “explosion of pain”. Watching the film is not far off.

    Read the full review at http://www.thatothermovieblog.blogspot.com.au

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