Isabella Rossellini and William Hurt are a couple struggling to adjust to retirement in this romantic comedy-drama. From writer/director Julie Gavras (Blame it on Fidel). Now playing in limited release.
Older people are often overlooked for lead roles on the big screen, excluding recent hits The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel, Beginners and the action flick Red. Late Bloomers is another film focused on the twilight years, a romantic comedy that strives for levity but feels as easygoing as hanging out with a forgetful curmudgeon.
The title would have you believe it’s a film about experiencing a newfound fulfilment or awakening in retirement. Instead it’s a slice of life tale about the travails of ageing and its effects on a marriage. Despite convincing performances from its respectable cast – Isabella Rosselini, William Hurt and Joanna Lumley – it’s not always easy to swallow the idea that a couple’s relationship is faltering simply because they are confronting later life differently. Mary wants big buttons on the telephone and grab bars in the bath, Adam would rather drink Red Bull and hang out with his younger colleagues. That’s too slight to derail a relationship so writer and director Julie Gavras throws in a few cliches – lusty dalliances with an office-worker for him, an encounter with an attractive younger man for her.
Sometimes the problem is simply editing; a scene in which Mary struggles with aqua aerobics quickly wears out its punchline, and a glaring continuity error ensues when Mary’s earrings mysteriously disappear despite the camera lingering on her neck. At others, it’s unlikeable characters forced to deliver self-conscious lines: Adam’s friend takes him to a whore house for a chat and Mary’s elderly mother says of her great-grand kids, “I don’t know which I hate more: future suits or future sluts.” There are better witty barbs but they’re too few and far between, as this odd comedy lurches between the truthful and artificial. And as more characters are introduced – some in particularly unbelievable ways – the narrative becomes so confused the film loses the plot altogether. Late Bloomers has its moments but mostly feels like an uncomfortable romp into old age.