I hadn’t heard of her before and so that’s how I approached watching this which, at the start, finds actress Gloria Grahame (Annette Bening on wonderful form) not feeling at all well, but it soon, subtly, flashes back to a happier time, two years earlier, in Primrose Hill, where she meets aspiring actor Peter Turner (Jamie Bell), and it’s during those flashback scenes, where she also lives in New York yet misses Liverpool, as that holds a place in her heart.
Bening portrays a 57-year-old actress who was a big name in black-and-white films – winning a Best Supporting Oscar for 1952’s The Bad And The Beautiful, and who knew people like Humphrey Bogart, but her star was now on the wane. A chance meeting with the 28-year-old Turner leads to her asking him to help out with her dance class, but it’s clear they want to dance the horizontal mambo, as A Taste of Honey’s Boogie Woogie Oogie plays in the background.
Bening turns on the ultimate MILF charm, and is great as Grahame, who has a touch of ‘Marilyn Monroe’ about her, and whose work began to dry up – as I learned afterwards – as she was rumoured to be ‘difficult to work with’ on the set of 1955’s Oklahoma!
Despite the harsh reality of Grahame’s condition, she wants to retain her dignity at all times, giving an air of someone who’s living the perfect life, and coming out with some great one-liners such as “It’s when the small aliens pop up between your legs that things get complicated”, referring to her children.
There’s electric chemistry between Bening (who really deserves her Best Actress BAFTA nomination) and Bell but it does get a little long in the tooth as they fall out, kiss and make up, fall out, kiss and make up, all rather too often – and this does not refer to scenes where we see the same event from both sides, as that was quite a clever addition.
There’s also some great misdirection as one scene segues into another when they’re clearly in entirely different places.
I knew nothing about Gloria Grahame before watching this, but now really want to see The Bad and the Beautiful.
Julie Walters and Kenneth Cranham also give good support as Turner’s parents, and, of course, Walters is reunited with her Billy Elliot co-star in Jamie Bell.
The film is presented in the original theatrical ratio of 2.35:1 and in 1080p high definition, and there’s no issues with the print whatsoever. It looks stunning as you’d expect for a modern with the picture graded to perfect that “’70s decade going into ’80s” look – including the location of 70s/’80s streets.. all still looking the same now, as do many in Manchester, and I’m watching on a Panasonic 50″ Plasma TV, connected to a PS4.
The audio is in DTS HD-MA 5.1, but the audio is mainly background sound/atmosphere, plus the music. It’s not a special effects movie.
In the mislabelled “Extras” section, there’s only one: an audio commentary from director Paul McGuigan, producer Barbara Broccoli and actor/writer Peter Turner, on whose memoir the film is based. There’s no interviews, no trailers, no nothing else. What a shame.
The menu is simply a static shot of the two leads with light sort-of shimmering over them, while a small piece of Elvis Costello‘s theme, You Shouldn’t Look At Me That Way. There are subtitles in English and a bog-standard 12 chapters. I prefer one every 5 minutes, which would equate to 21.
Running time: 106 minutes
Released: March 19th 2018
Picture: 1080p High Definition
Sound: English DTS HD 5.1
Subtitles: English SDH, Spanish
Aspect ratio: 2.35:1
Disc Format: BD50
Director: Paul McGuigan
Producers: Barbara Broccoli and Colin Vaines
Screenplay: Matt Greenhalgh (based on the memoir by Peter Turner)
Music: J Ralph
Gloria Grahame: Annette Bening
Peter Turner: Jamie Bell
Joe Turner, jr.: Stephen Graham
Bella Turner: Julie Walters
Joe Turner: Kenneth Cranham
Jeanne McDougall: Vanessa Redgrave
Joy: Frances Barber
Eileen: Leanne Best
Jack: Peter Turner
Vanessa: Isabella Laughland
Dan: James Bloor
Tim: Tom Brittney
Fifi Oscard: Suzanne Bertish
Female Patient: Gemma Oaten
Liza Minelli: Luana Di Pasquale
Reviewer of movies, videogames and music since 1994. Aortic valve operation survivor from the same year. Running DVDfever.co.uk since 2000. Nobel Peace Prize winner 2021.