Finding Your Feet (2018) Review

5:22 PM

Everyone Deserves a Second Dance. 
This review contains spoilers. 
"Finding Your Feet" is directed by Richard Loncraine (Band of Brothers) and stars Imelda Staunton (Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix), Celia Imrie (The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel), Joanne Lumley (Absolutely Fabulous), Timothy Spall (Mr. Turner) and David Hayman (The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas). "On the eve of retirement a middle class, judgmental snob discovers her husband has been having an affair with her best friend and is forced into exile with her bohemian sister who lives on an impoverished inner-city council estate". Marketed as a heart-warming, feel-good flick, does "Finding Your Feet' hit the mark? 

I really wanted to love "Finding Your Feet"; the trailer promised an uplifting film about rebounding from whatever challenges life poses. The film does tell this story, but from a much more gloomy and pessmistic (some would say honest) angle than expected. Unfortunately, I did not leave the cinema feeling happy and upbeat, instead I left feeling quite miserable; watching elderly people tackle tough life moments over and over again surprisingly is not that enjoyable. The cast are all good, and I acknowledge that film's like this keep providing older actors with jobs, which is important. While I was disappointed by the lack of happiness exuded from "Finding Your Feet", it has touching moments and is sure to please its target audience. 

Imelda Staunton plays Sandra, the film's protagonist. Sandra's unlikeable characteristics actually make her quite an unconventional choice for the main character in a film like this. Within minutes, it is revealed that Sandra's husband has been having an affair with one of her close friends for five years; of course we feel sympathy for her. However, it is the way Sandra acts around others after this that made it harder and harder to like the character; she is rude to her sister Bif (Imrie) who willingly lets her stay at her house, racist and aggressive towards a waiter at a Chinese restaurant, and she judges everyone she sees. This was a comedic choice that got old quickly. For a large part of the first act, I questioned why the writers did not notice that they had created such an unappealing lead character, but then it came to writing this review and the synopsis of the film says 'a middle class, judgemental snob'; the writers are very aware of the type of person Sandra is. Still, I think it was a weird choice as Sandra does not develop any redeeming qualities until the half way mark. This did allow for Sandra to have a satisfying character arc; she realises how much she loves her sister and sees past her judgements. Imelda Staunton plays the character well though; I believe I have only seen Staunton in "Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix" and "Maleficent", so this role was very different to what I have seen from her before. Despite Sandra being an unlikeable character, Staunton made all of her scenes more-than-watchable and appeared devoted to her role. 

The rest of the cast do a nice job. Celia Imrie is a stand-out; she plays Bif, and is probably given the most challenging material. In just one performance, Imrie has to play a bubbly and lively woman, as well as a weak yet stubborn cancer patient. It did feel like Imrie's character was simply killed off to add some further drama to the story, and to help Sandra come to a realisation. Was her death neccessary? Probably not. Then again, the writers could be taking a more honest approach as diagnosis of life-threatening illnesses often comes as a sudden shock to most people. I do feel that the plot was substantial enough without Imrie's death; Sandra was finding her feet (excuse the pun) after divorcing her husband, I'm not sure another major life event was needed. The after-effects of Imrie's death felt quite rushed; it takes Sandra the majority of the film to get over her divorce, but about 10 minutes until she is seemingly done with grieving. Celia Imrie has had a long career, she's been working since the 70s. Yet, I still wonder why Imrie has not had an even bigger and better career; she certainly seems to have talent. 

I think one of the biggest selling points for a lot of people will be that this film stars Joanna Lumley; a UK national treasure (at a screening of "The Shape of Water" a couple of weeks back, two ladies were discussing films they wanted to see and referred to this one as the 'new Joanna Lumley one that looks lovely'). Film-goers should be prepared for very few scenes that actually feature Lumley, she's very much part of the supporting cast. Despite having little screen-time, Lumley manages to make an impression; she had the crowd laughing in her first-scene, I just wish her role was bigger. Timothy Spall plays Charlie, who ends up being the film's love interest. Charlie is dealing with his own life struggles as his wife has dementia and has completely forgotten who he is. These scenes were difficult to watch, but the film was never disrespectful. Spall's performance is good, I just found my mind wondering whenever he spoke for an extended period of time because his voice is very monotone. David Hayman's role is very small but he does a nice job. 

Don't be misled by the marketing and expect "Finding Your Feet" to be a 110 minute joyride; it tackles heavy and upsetting themes. From Sandra's divorce, to Charlie's wife with dementia, to Bif's cancer diagnosis and eventual death, there is rarely a moment where this film is not plagued by sadness. I really really wanted this to be a heart-warming British flick that could become one of those go-to movies to put on in the future. I don't even think the emotional moments were done that well, the entire film felt like a very pessmisitic and bleak outlook on older life. Characters would be starting to pick themselves back up and would suddenly be hit with another life drama. For example, at the film's big climactic dance competition, the fun is interuppted when Bif's back starts to cause her pain, from that point onwards, Bif's health is all I could think about. The film could have done a better job detailing the subplot surrounding Charlie and his wife; the scenes at the care-home were heartbreaking to watch, but Charlie seems to come to a random realisation that he should not visit her anymore and then he starts dating Sandra. Charlie's wife then dies and immediately after, he sails off to start a new adventure. I completely understand why Charlie acted this way, but I worry that some audience members may not. Dementia destroys the person that you once knew and loved from the inside; they are no longer that person. Charlie probably wanted to keep the great memories he had of his wife and not let these new distressing ones overshadow them. With just an extra scene, "Finding Your Feet" could have solved this issue. 

Sadness definitely outweights happiness when it comes to "Finding Your Feet"; there were not that many funny moments. The film did use dark humour to save it from hitting a really low point. There is a cringe-worthy scene where Bif starts stripping for a man she has brought home; this was so bad. However, it is like the filmmakers were aware of this and they rescue it with comedy; the man is so overwhelmed by what he is seeing that he dies. This was the moment that got the biggest laugh from the audience. There were some other witty one-liners but they obviously were not that great as I can't recall them. 

While I did not particularly enjoy "Finding Your Feet", I can acknowledge the importance of a film like this. One of Hollywood's biggest issues is creating exciting and interesting roles for older actors; they too often play the elderly family member who is either crazy or lonely. Films like "Finding Your Feet" give older actors the opportunity to play characters they not only can relate to, but are refreshingly different to what they would get offered on a daily basis. An advert for a charity working with older people played before the film that showed that life is not over when you age, you can still get up to exciting things. "Finding Your Feet" felt like a feature length Age UK advert; not only is Age UK actually featured within the film, the film's supposed message is that older people should find the strength to pick themselves up and continue to socialise and be happy. However, the message I took from the film is that everything is not going to be ok, and that no-matter how happy you are feeling, it can be stripped from you at any moment. "Finding Your Feet" felt overly pessmistic...or maybe it's just honest? 

I just can't give "Finding Your Feet" a positive mark because I am so disappointed by what the film turned out to be. I expected a feel-good, uplifting film with some occasionally touching moments, instead I got a film full of emotion and drama, with rare upbeat scenes. Those who have not seen the trailer and therefore have no expectations may enjoy it a lot more; it was just not what I told myself it would be. The cast do a good job; Imelda Staunton plays the unlikeable Sandra and Celia Imrie plays the all-fun Bif. "Finding Your Feet" is almost guranteed to be a winner with its target audience, but for me, it was an emotional roller coaster that went down too many times. 


What did you think of FINDING YOUR FEET? What is your favourite feel-good film? - COMMENT BELOW

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