UK Release Date: 23rd February 2018
Runtime: 111 minutes
Director: Richard Loncraine
Writer: Nick Moorcroft, Meg Leonard
Starring: Imelda Staunton, Celia Imrie, Timothy Spall, Joanna Lumley, David Hayman, John Sessions, Josie Lawrence
Synopsis: When her husband cheats on her after 40 years, a hoity-toity woman moves in with her freewheeling sister and rediscovers her long-lost love for dancing, as well as potential new romance.
Since the overwhelming success of The King’s Speech and The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel reminded the movie industry that older people like films too, British cinema has churned out dozens of stories aimed squarely at what has been increasingly dubbed the ‘grey pound’ audience. Finding Your Feet is the latest movie to fall into that category and it’s actually a rather moving study of how our relationships – both romantic and platonic – change as we grow older, interspersed with a rousing story of rediscovered passions and dancing – back pain, be damned.
Imelda Staunton is “Lady” Sandra Abbott, whose police chief husband of 40 years (John Sessions) has been cheating on her for several years with her best friend, played by Josie Lawrence in a neat Whose Line is it Anyway? reunion. In a fit of rage, she moves in with her hippy-dippy sister Bif (Celia Imrie), whose pokey flat on a London council estate is a far cry from Sandra’s opulent family home in Surrey. Although initially lacking in energy, Sandra finds a new lease of life in the dance class Bif attends, as well as a new friendship with handyman Charlie (Timothy Spall).
The sense of fun in Finding Your Feet allows it to pull off a rather neat tonal trick. It has a sex-positive, occasionally foul-mouthed frankness that is uncommon to cosy Brit flicks of this ilk. Much of this comes from Imrie’s character, who is essentially a hippy caricature – she loves sharing a joint and has a prominent ‘Ban the Bomb’ poster in her kitchen. This allows the movie to get a few raucous laughs from its more daring stabs at humour, though this means its creakier, more noticeably old-fashioned moments come unstuck. One scene, in which Staunton embarks upon an unprovoked racist outburst, is howlingly out of place and largely unchallenged by any of the other characters.
Director Richard Loncraine, perhaps best known for tennis romcom Wimbledon, is on far surer footing with the fluffy stuff. The budding relationship between Staunton and Spall is neatly played by both actors and the former’s performance is modulated nicely as her character embraces the enthusiasm for dance that was so prominent in her childhood. These dance scenes have a gently euphoric quality and provide the best moments of Finding Your Feet, alongside a genuinely affecting subplot involving Spall’s wife suffering from rapidly encroaching dementia.
In many ways, though, the film misses real opportunities to hit hard on the comedy scale. Imrie gives it both barrels, but is often saddled with schmaltzy dialogue, and Joanna Lumley is sorely wasted as one of Imrie’s friends. As you’d expect, Lumley steals every scene in which she appears, but almost all of her funniest dialogue is in the trailer and she barely gets any sort of meaningful screen time. The same is true of Sessions and Lawrence, who merit far more room to be villainous and slimy than they are given.
With that said, though, there’s too much to enjoy in Finding Your Feet for it to be possible to dislike. The performances are sweet and the narrative arc, while formulaic, is capable of soaring emotion as well as a reliable stream of chuckles. Any movie that features the shocking revelation that “it’s impossible to find a decent croissant in Surrey” as a punchline has to be worth watching.
Pop or Poop?
It’s occasionally old-fashioned in its storytelling and neatly follows the sort of plot progression you’d expect from this brand of film, but Finding Your Feet is a thoroughly pleasant film. Spall and Staunton imbue the film with surprisingly sharp comedy, as well as the emotion and heartbreak that seems to be its central thesis.
There’s nothing particularly world-changing or medium-shifting about this, but it’s an enjoyable evening at the cinema.
Do you agree with my review? Let me know in the comments section.