"Unfinished Song" is like a bowl of soup that, on the menu, sounds rich, flavorful and filling. But when it arrives, your spoon bumps into precious few veggies, the broth is thin and the meal leaves you hungry.
In this case, the attraction is a cast led by Vanessa Redgrave and Terence Stamp, with Gemma Arterton and Christopher Eccleston in supporting roles.
Ms. Redgrave's Marion and Mr. Stamp's Arthur are proof that opposites not only attract but sometimes marry and stay together for decades.
Despite a losing battle with cancer, Marion is a friendly, happy member of a senior citizens choir whose director (Ms. Arterton) makes bizarre choices of costumes and songs, such as Salt-N-Pepa's "Let's Talk About Sex."
2 1/2 stars = Average
Terence Stamp, Vanessa Redgrave.
PG-13 for some sexual references and rude gestures.
Arthur is a literally buttoned-up pensioner who is devoted to his wife but finds the choir silly or a "flaming nuisance" when members appear outside the couple's bedroom window to cheer Marion. He almost never smiles, enjoys little and has a distant relationship with his adult son (Mr. Eccleston).
After Marion sings a solo at a public performance, without ever taking her eyes off Arthur, he ducks out of sight to smoke in solitude and silence. "I really don't understand you. You have this wonderful woman who adores you," the choir director scolds Arthur. "It must be really hard being you."
It is, especially after Arthur lapses into utter loneliness and purposelessness and then tries to fight his negative nature and embrace new challenges.
But "Unfinished Song" must follow the poignant playbook, even if it's hard to believe that grumpy, rigid Arthur would or could change, even a tiny bit.
Director-writer Paul Andrew Williams calls "Unfinished Song" semi-autobiographical, citing his grandparents for inspiration.
However, he fails to lay the foundation for scenarios he presents, and the whole endeavor feels precious and predictable, despite a lovely and gentle Ms. Redgrave and tightly wound, taciturn Mr. Stamp. They are the movie's redeeming features.
It leaves threads hanging about why Arthur's son felt such disappointment from his father, walks a fine line between allowing seniors to have a devil-may-care attitude or be the easy target of laughs and feels pat. Nothing wrong with being heartwarming but there's just not enough kindling tossed onto this film fire.
Opens today at the Manor in Squirrel Hill.