I don’t know how many British films like Finding your feet I’ve seen. The formula is easy: you take a respectable middle-age/elderly British actress, she’ll play a woman with a dramatic situation who copes by doing something that takes her out of her comfort zone, but makes them feel that they have accomplish a lot. The cynic in me calls that the “embracing life” or “climb every mountain” films. How do you like them clichés? In Calendar girls you had Dame Helen Mirren and Dame Julie Walters posing in a nude calendar to raise money for cancer, Song for Marion starred Dame Vanessa Redgrave as a cancer patient joining a choir. There are many other examples. There is a lot of laughs and pathos. That is why the those films are a big hit. But it has to be British. If Americans tried to do a film like that, it would be called corny, and it would be snubbed and laughed at. If it sounds as if I did not like Finding your feet, it is wrong. Well, I liked it more than I expected. It’s probably because of the three main actors. Imelda Staunton plays Lady Sandra Abbott, who finds out that Mike (John Sessions), her husband of 40 years, has been having an affair with her best friend. Ashamed and hurt she goes to live with her estranged sister, Bif (Celia Imrie, who was one of the Calendar girls). Bif lives on an inner-city apartment building, and the “Lady” lived in a rich mansion. Sandra is snobbish, doesn’t like anyone or anything, especially her life. Meanwhile, Bif is an “embracing life”, “climb every mountain” person. While Bif is going to community dance class for seniors, Sandra mopes around the apartment all day, drinking too much and feeling sorry for herself. It takes time, but with the influence of her older sister, Sandra is slowly getting out of her near comatose state. One of Sandra’s childhood dreams was to be a dancer, so Bif invites Sandra to join the dance class. There Sandra meets Charlie (Timothy Spall) and Jackie (Joanna Lumley). At first Sandra does not like Charlie very much, but he’s a very good dancer, and slowly they become closer. But Sandra ignores that Charlie is married, but his wife is suffering from advance stage Alzheimer, and does not recognize him. It is too much for Charlie and it may cause her more damage than good, so he stops visiting her. When a video of a dance that the group performed as a street celebration has gone viral, they are invited to go to Rome to perform at a festival. But Mike wants her to come back home. A lot of people will like Finding your feet. And so did I. Yes, the actors are good. This is a great part for Celia Imrie, who usually plays the best friend, the ex-wife or the mother. Here she is funny and touching. And so is Timothy Spall. The scenes where Charlie visits his wife are particularly effective and hard to watch. And Imelda Staunton is a great performer. She made me laugh and touched me. She is the main reason to go see Finding your feet. There is one small problem. The dance number in Rome is a big letdown. The expectations were raised quite high, but instead of having something that was extraordinary, we get something that doesn’t even match the quality of the rest of the film. The dance in Rome was such a disappointment. But if you wanna laugh and have a good cry… And it is British!
Finding your feet
Meg Leonard & Nick Moorcroft