Does ‘Finding Your Feet’ succeed as a rom-com for seniors?
Romantic comedies are about as shop-worn a genre as there is in Hollywood, but that doesn’t stop filmmakers from constantly trying out new spins on a tried-and-true formula. “Finding Your Feet” is a modest British effort in that direction: a romantic comedy for senior citizens.
Seniors tend to bring a lot of baggage to a new relationship, of course. And when that emotional baggage — like adultery, divorce, and heartbreak — is coupled with the standard frailties of age, like minor and major illnesses and even imminent death, the usual ground rules of romantic comedies have a chance to be deepened, darkened, and enriched.
But “Finding Your Feet” isn’t interested in exploring any new ground. Disappointingly, it’s willing to be every bit as shallow and predictable as many other run-of-the-mill examples of the genre. The one thing that saves it is its stellar British cast that outperforms its script.
The plot is set in motion when Lady Sandra catches her husband with another woman at his retirement party.
“I spent my entire married life putting you and your career first,” Lady Sandra angrily tells her husband. “What got me through was knowing that when you retired we would share our golden years together. But instead, you’ve traded me in for a newer model. Let me tell you, she’s had more than one previous owner.”
Lady Sandra gets a divorce and moves in with her estranged free-spirited, counter-culture sister Bif. But things get off to a rocky start.
“I knew it was a mistake coming here,” Sandra scoffs at her sister. “You’ve never stuck in a relationship in your life because it takes you away from your latest crackpot cause.”
“There’s nothing crackpot about trying to safeguard the planet,” Bif responds.
Uptight Sandra eventually learns to drop her snobbery and her guard after a few heart-to-heart sisterly conversations. Sandra learns that it’s one thing to be scared of dying, yet it’s another thing to be scared of living.
And after Bif convinces her to join a dance class for seniors, Sandra finds herself slowly falling for her dance partner, Charlie, an old friend of Bif’s. The course of love never does run smooth, even or maybe especially for seniors. But never fear, it runs smoothly enough for the requisite happy ending. In fact, it runs too smoothly, for my tastes, because absolutely everything is telegraphed far in advance.
The formulaic script for “Finding Your Feet” is made palatable by a top-notch cast, lead by British stalwarts (and Harry Potter veterans) Imelda Staunton and Timothy Spall. They’re great sports, of course, but you have to wonder if they think having a bunch of 70-somethings dancing to “le Freak” is as hilarious as the film does. Ah well, as sister Bif says, one of the perks of getting older is not having to worry about what others think.