Review / ‘The Time of Their Lives’ (M) ***

IF you are an indefatigable watcher of British TV series dramas you may have seen the name Roger Goldby listed as director. He’s made episodes of some memorable series, including a favourite of mine, “At Home with the Braithwaites”, which hopefully the ABC might resurrect ere long.

“The Time of Their Lives” is a sweet geriatric tale in the vein of perhaps “Thelma and Louise”.

Helen (Joan Collins) is a faded movie actress bored out of her skull in an English retirement village and desperate to attend the funeral in France of a director for whom she has an obsessive memory. She’s broke. She also resents people’s failure to recognise and fawn over her after so long on the shelf.

Priscilla (Pauline Collins in a role not dissimilar to her award-winning portrayal of Shirley Valentine) has spent 40 years mourning the drowning of her four-year-old son for which she feels responsible on account of not then having been able to swim. Now she swims every day in a poignant attempt to expiate her failure. A soulless marriage to grumpy and demanding Frank (Ronald Pickup) has drained her emotions.

The story tells how Helen and Priscilla meet, make common cause, get to France without having to pay, have adventures including stealing a car that inevitably runs out of petrol and get a lift in a 2CV, that courageous little French automotive workhorse, driven by Alberto (Franco Nero), a dishy bloke with a splendid country home.

No prizes for guessing which of them is going to score with Alberto. Or for foreseeing the aftermath of his last night on earth, dead on the floor of a hotel suite. More follows toward a conclusion that makes statements about friendship and compassion.

It’s a likeable, lightweight comedy showcasing two British actresses (one octogenarian and one seven years younger) who have no difficulty in convincing us that they have not yet passed their use-by dates.

At Palace Electric and Capitol 6

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