Unfinished Song | Film | Pittsburgh | Pittsburgh City Paper

Unfinished Song

A pair of good veteran actors are wasted in this sentimental piffle

Happy at home: Vanessa Redgrave and Terence Stamp
Happy at home: Vanessa Redgrave and Terence Stamp

The presence of one of my favorite actors, Terence Stamp, in Unfinished Song caused me more pain than pleasure: Why is this talented man starring in this thin, feel-good gruel of sentimental clichés? And dammit, why is he doing nice quiet work as the crotchety pensioner, Arthur, who doesn't know how to share his feelings?

Those buried feelings take a big hit when his perpetually cheery wife (Vanessa Redgrave) dies of cancer. To "honor her" (but mostly just to make this story work), Arthur takes his dead wife's place in a choir of seniors, who sing rap and Motörhead under the perky direction of Gemma Arterton.

Why, yes, there is a big choir contest — and a solo that Arthur might sing, and an estranged son who might show up, and a big damp pile of Kleenex extracted from the audience through various shameless gimmicks. (As if to confirm all my worst fears about how terribly cheesy this film is, for its big emotional number — out of all the songs ever recorded — it chooses one by Billy Joel.)

The domestic scenes with Stamp and Redgrave (also great) are the film's best sweet and bittersweet moments. If only writer-director Paul Andrew Williams had focused on their relationship, and let these veteran actors work with material meatier than a Salt-N-Pepa song.

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