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The Time of Their Lives

Cover Media logo Cover Media 16/03/2017

The Time of Their Lives is a road buddy comedy unabashedly aimed at the grey-haired brigade.

Written and directed by Roger Goldby, the movie stars Pauline Collins as Priscilla, a repressed English housewife, who accidentally finds herself on a bus full of pensioners headed to the seaside on a daytrip.

Priscilla is quickly befriended by Helen (Joan Collins), a penniless former Hollywood actress, who has escaped her London retirement home with a plan to gatecrash her ex-lover's funeral in the glamorous French hideaway of Ile-de-Re.

A timid Priscilla is persuaded to join Helen on her journey, and the duo pool resources to make the journey across the Channel via ferry. Upon arrival, Priscilla notices a young boy fall from the boardwalk to the sea, and bravely jumps to his rescue, saving the child’s life.

Following a hospital visit, Priscilla is lauded as a hero but instead of basking in the limelight, pushes attention-seeking Helen in front of the news cameras, and ultimately reveals her biggest secret – a tragedy occurring within her family 36 years earlier. Being able to express her guilt and grief, a weight is lifted off of her shoulders and she finally feels the freedom to break free from her mundane existence.

Accordingly, Priscilla and Helen embark on a series of road movie-inspired adventures, beginning with “borrowing” a car from a rental company, navigating foreign roads and eventually becoming stranded in a rural area. The pair’s uneasy friendship is especially tested when they encounter Italian painter Alberto (Franco Nero), who invites them to stay in his eclectic mansion. A competitive spirit is also invoked in Helen as Alberto pursues the married Priscilla, and thanks to the love triangle storyline, all of them challenge stereotypes by smoking marijuana or having casual sex.

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The friendship becomes even more complicated when Priscilla’s grumpy husband Frank (Ronald Pickup) and daughter Sarah (Sian Reeves) wind up in France, looking to bring her home, while Helen can’t help but make a spectacle of herself at her ex-beau’s funeral.

Even though the plot is unevenly paced and oddly lacks any emotional crescendos, Pauline, 76, and Joan, 83, do a nice job of conveying the vulnerabilities of their respective characters, and both captivate the screen in each frame. Joan also has the best lines, delivering a couple of zingers in regard to ageism and sexism, speaking with all of the coolness of her famed role as Dynasty’s Alexis.

But while the key characters find varying forms of closure, the concluding sequences offer up more questions than answers and, overall, the narrative didn’t quite capture the poignancy of other films aimed at mature viewers, such as The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel or Philomena.

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