Finding Your Feet
Another week, another quality pairing of beloved performers in a respectful yet entertaining tale of aging.
Elevating the example set by Helen Mirren and Donald Sutherland in The Leisure Seeker is the cast of Finding Your Feet, featuring former Harry Potter series villains — and Mike Leigh regulars — as slightly more cuddly characters.
The impetus for their convergence begins when, on the eve of setting off into life with her newly retired husband Mike (John Sessions), housewife Sandra (Imelda Staunton) discovers he’s been having an affair with her best friend Pamela (Josie Lawrence).
From Sandra's semi-comedic response to the news, the film is wholly British in its slang, tone and details, maintaining that approach as Sandra somewhat inexplicably thrusts herself upon her estranged older sister Bif (Celia Imrie), a free spirit quick with a joke, though not nearly as witty as her handyman friend Charlie (Timothy Spall) and their saucy fellow dance classmate Jackie (Joanna Lumley).
In denial of her circumstances and confident Mike will see the error of his ways and grovel for her return, Sandra is all but forced into the dance group and gradually sheds her superior attitude, delightfully rediscovering the activity she was forced to drop when she and her husband started a family.
The fun musical selections and watching the cast skillfully display a range of dance styles yield generous smiles, though Finding Your Feet ably works in more serious subject matter as well. The melancholy of Charlie’s recent life is especially touching, though additional hardships of other dancers' inabilities to stave off the effects of growing old are gracefully and authentically handled under the clear, no-fuss direction of Richard Loncraine (Wimbledon).
As the social club further gels and accidentally achieves some fame, and Sandra grows closer to Charlie and Bif, side players such as Sandra's daughter Nicola (Marianne Oldham) remain underdeveloped and become lost in the shuffle, though nevertheless serve their purpose.
Aiming to both flutter and shatter one's heart, the film's major plot points are resolved pretty much as one would expect and the final shot tries its hardest to set new records for corniness, but there’s such a deep warmth to it all that any other outcomes would feel dishonest for its beloved characters.
Grade: B-plus. Rated PG-13. Now playing at Biltmore Grande and Carolina Cinemark
(Photo: Roadside Attractions)