CinemaDave (cinemadave) wrote,

“Mrs. Palfrey at the Claremont,” a sweeter version of "Harold & Maude."

Having faced another birthday, I wonder if I am
becoming too old to keep writing this film column. I
am not a fan
of most of the Oscar nominated motion pictures.
Another sign of my old age is that a few weeks ago,
I gave a positive review to that Ancient Dame herself,
Judi Dench in her Oscar nominated work, "Mrs. Henderson
presents..." and now I am writing the praises of her contemporary, Joan
Plowright, in "Mrs. Palfrey at the Claremont."

Having relocated from Scotland to be near her
26-year-old grandson Desmond (Lorcan O'Toole),
Mrs. Palfrey (Plowright) arrives at London's
Claremont Hotel. While initially friendly, the
Claremont residents are nosy people and interrogate Mrs.
Palfrey about her personal life. With the biggest question
being; “ Where is Desmond?“

Desmond is too busy to visit his grandmother and Mrs.
Palfrey makes friends with Ludovic "Ludo" Meyer (Rupert
Friend), a young writer with Bohemina tendencies. Through conversation,
these two different characters find that they have much in common,
including a streak of mischievous.
Ludo agrees to pass himself off as Mrs. Palfrey's
grandson during a visit to the Claremont.

Some situational comedy follows, especially when the
real Desmond finally shows up and Mrs. Palfrey tries
to pass him off as her accountant. While it is not
slapstick funny, “Mrs. Palfrey at the Claremont” has shades of "Harold
and Maude." The film does not veer into the profane or
controversial. Instead a responsible
definition about the meaning of love is revealed, a
far more mature definition that what is
presented by the over rated "Brokeback Mountain."

As a team, Plowright and Friend make their characters
real and endearing. Friend makes “Ludo” a nice and
caring guy who is comfortable in his own skin. Given
her past career in dodgy supporting character roles,
it is great to see Laurence Olivier's widow take on a
leading cinematic role as Mrs. Palfrey. It is a
pleasure to watch Mrs. Palfrey's dignity through Mrs.

The environment of the Claremont in Great Britain
deserves some comment. While the building looks
initially elegant, the maintenance staff could use a
turnover. The doormen do not help the elderly with
their bags, repairs go undone and overall service is
rude in a passive aggressive manner. It made me
appreciate the American system of voting in which
residents can vote out pompous and vindictive
condominium board of directors.

“Mrs. Palfrey at the Claremont” is a sweet movie that
provides entertainment on many different levels.
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