To label The Time of Their Lives as a flawed endeavour would be something of an understatement, and yet there’s a hesitancy to be overly critical, for this Roger Goldby endeavour represents a unique cinematic experience; as one that features elderly women in the leading roles, and allows actresses nuanced, layered characters to delve into – which should be celebrated, regardless of the fact we’re dealing with a melodrama that makes Dynasty feel like it had been directed by Ken Loach.
Talking of the aforementioned soap opera, Joan Collins takes on the leading role of Helen, a former movie star, now without any of the money she once owned, but with equal amount of style and grace. Struggling to come to terms with her has-been status, she is thrilled to encounter a fan, the timid Priscilla (Pauline Collins), who appears to have had all of her self-confidence and worth beaten out of her by her perpetually grumpy husband Frank (Ronald Pickup).
During a day trip to the seaside for the old people’s home where Helen resides, Priscilla finds herself unwittingly on board, and while intending to be home in just a mere matter of hours, she decides to take a rare risk and set off to France with her new friend to attend a funeral – and it’s on her travels she meets artist Alberto (Franco Nero), who ignites a passion within her she’d forgotten she had, all while Helen watches on jealously.
The roles are brought to life terrifically from the two leads, who have been so well cast in this instance. There’s a distinct vulnerability to Pauline Collins’ demeanour, and a blissful sense of naivety in the early stages that makes for an endearing character. Joan Collins, on the other hand, has been given a much more unlikeable role to get her teeth into, but it’s one she thrives in. Helen is a deeply sad, selfish individual, and while Collins captures that aspect of her personality, she’s also got that movie star quality about her, the glamorous, elegance edge that the role requires.
Naturally there are some truly absurd plot twists, and if you were to be pedantic a fair few plot-holes to get frustrated about, but look, if you’re the sort of person who wants to see a romantic caper with Joan and Pauline Collins in it, then you’re unlikely to leave disappointed, for this film has been crafted specifically for this demographic. I’m a 28 year old man who likes death and destruction, and kitchen sink realism – believe me when I say that I didn’t have the time of my life, but fair to say some will, and who can begrudge them that?
The Time of Their Lives is released on March 10th.