Song for Marion (‘Unfinished Song’)

COMIC DRAMA; 1hr 34min

STARRING: Gemma Arterton, Vanessa Redgrave, Terence Stamp, Christopher Eccleston

Sweet music: Redgrave and Stamp

In the tissue-soaked tradition of the 2007 documentary Young@Heart, Paul Andrew Williams’s Song for Marion salutes music as a celebration of life at its most testing. Marion Harris (Redgrave) is in the final stages of cancer. She and her husband, Arthur (Stamp), tackle the enormity of this with a sturdy, peculiarly British resolve. Arthur, gruffly protective, doesn’t approve of Marion singing in a community choir, led by a peaches-and-cream Arterton as Elizabeth. He grudgingly goes along with it, seeing how the saucy music sustains her — “Let’s talk about sex, baby!” But what looks like a withholding of support is really a deep-seated fear that Arthur has failed to make his wife happy. At issue, too, is his tense, baffled relationship with his and Marion’s son, James (Eccleston).


Each piece of this emotive mosaic is lo-fi and fuss-free — it’s that Brit thing again — but nor is it fusty or dull: as the core and the driving force, self-condemning Arthur is a cranky old heartbreaker from his grudging beginnings to his unexpected end.