Release Date: November 25th, 2005 (NYC- The Paris Theater) by Cineville.
The Cast: Joan Plowright, Rupert Friend, Anna Massey, Zoe Tapper, Georgina Hale, Millicent Martin, Marcia Warren, Robert Lang, Michael Culkin, Clare Higgins, Lorcan O’Toole.
Directed by Dan Ireland.
BASIC PREMISE: While living at The Claremont Hotel during her retirement, Mrs.Palfrey (Plowright) befriends Ludo (Friend), a young writer, and pretends that he’s her grandson.
ENTERTAINMENT VALUE: Although similar to Harold and Maude in terms of its basic plot, this still manages to be a refreshing film thanks to Joan Plowright’s endless charm and warmth. Newcomer Rupert Friend also gives a surprisingly great performance. He’s definitely a talent to watch. The way Mrs.Palfrey meets Ludo when she accidentally falls down and scraps her knee is slightly contrived and cheesy, even he invites her to his apartment to patch up her wounds. However, the tender script gives them scenes when they can really interact and get to know one another without relying on action. Mrs.Palfrey’s real grandson, Desmond, doesn’t return her phone-calls, so, in order to impress her fellow neighbors at the hotel, she assigns Ludo to act as her grandson. By chance, Ludo happens to be in need of a grandmother in his life. Throughout the film, they talk a lot but it’s always engaging to watch their budding friendship that never becomes awkward. Not surprisingly, he falls in love with a young girl named Gwendolyn (Tapper) who befriends Mrs.Palfrey as well. When the real Desmond shows up, the plot becomes more complex and even slightly humorous. Fortunately, the script doesn’t rely upon silly humor or dark, shocking twists. The reliance on character development means that you can easily immerse yourself in the character’s lives and care about them like they’re real people, not just caricatures of real people.
SPIRITUAL VALUE: Just like in Harold and Maude , an elerly lady has plenty to teach a younger man about living life. Mrs.Palfrey inspires Ludo to make his life more meaningful and, indirectly, thanks to her taste in movies, he meets the love his of his life—his own age, of course. What makes Mrs.Palfrey at the Clarement truly heartwarming is that Ludo also inspires Mrs.Palfrey to smile more often, especially because he gives so much attention to her and, above all, looks up to her like she really is his wise, loving grandmother.
INSULT TO YOUR INTELLIGENCE: None.
NUMBER OF TIMES I CHECKED MY WATCH: 1
THE BOTTOM LINE: Heartwarming, profoundly moving, and endlessly charming! Joan Plowright is joy to behold! Rupert Friend gives a breakthrough performance!
RECOMMENDED WAY TO WATCH: Movie Theater (1st Run)
The "M" Menu