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Overall Rating

Worth A Look: 9.38%
Average: 0%
Pretty Bad: 40.63%
Total Crap: 0%

2 reviews, 20 user ratings

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Mrs. Palfrey at the Claremont
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by William Goss

"London Stalling"
2 stars

About as parched as Joan Plowright’s nether regions, 'Mrs. Palfrey at the Claremont' is an exceptionally bland and equally bloated adaptation of Elizabeth Taylor’s novel, unreasonably stretching stale material better suited for an ideal hour-long BBC program across a numbing 108 minutes.

The widow Mrs. Palfrey (Plowright) arrives at the titular establishment, hoping to establish a lifestyle independent of her domineering daughter. The Claremont serves as a voluntary retirement hotel of sorts, littered with a handful of fossil fools that mope about the lounge, awaiting their lackluster meals, Sex and the City reruns, and whatever meager gossip anyone can muster. One day, Palfrey accidentally meets aspiring writer Ludovic Meyer (Richard Friend, of The Libertine and Pride & Prejudice), whom she soon passes off as her grandson to her peers.

Although a case of mistaken identity and multigenerational bonding may have been substantial enough to carry Taylor’s tome from cover to cover, such a flimsy narrative and skimpy character development make Mrs. Palfrey the equivalent of diet vanilla yogurt. There is no effort behind any of its alleged charm, but even artificial sweetener is better than nothing at all. The arrival of Mrs. Palfrey promotes no change in the occupants of the Claremont, and her character arc is practically non-existent. Only towards the end does she begin to cope with her inevitable mortality, but instead of trying to make the most of life, she seems simply resigned to biding her time until she bites the big one.

Plowright contributes a paltry amount of effort into an incredibly flat role, making no effort to develop Mrs. Palfrey into someone more endearing. Friend, who quite resembles Tom Cruise’s Magnolia stunt double, manages to stand pretty and recite lines when prompted, nothing more, nothing less. His love interest, Gwendolyn (Zoe Tapper), is deprived of enough screen time to make a worthy impression, although her character is a relatively simple one. The Claremont residents are equally unremarkable, each flaunting roughly a fraction of a character trait before retreating to the background.

Mrs. Palfrey at the Claremont goes plodding through the paces with all the momentum of molasses, checking off the clichés as it goes and failing to introduce any truly winning characters along the way. Despite a reference to Harold and Maude, the relationship here between young and old lacks any degree of depth, let alone the twisted charm that made that pair so appealing. Here is a film that so desperately wants to coast by on nothing at all, not even relying on the typical senior spunk that similar fare tends to embrace so very much.

As it turns out, the performances from Plowright that I enjoyed the most were those of her as a total bitch. At least she had a personality in 'Bringing Down The House,' versus the maddeningly mild monotony of 'Mrs. Palfrey.' Hopefully, she’ll learn, for our sakes, that it may be best to let the sleeping dogs die.

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originally posted: 02/23/06 20:14:20
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OFFICIAL SELECTION: 2006 Vancouver Film Festival For more in the 2006 Vancouver Film Festival series, click here.

User Comments

4/28/11 a granddaughter i loved my grandmother as Ludo loves Mrs. Palfrey - as a dear friend. soul trumps age. 5 stars
2/15/09 Sandra This will be added as my 2nd # 1 movie. Love and respect can cross generational lines a 5 stars
3/09/08 RileyK a lovely movie 5 stars
2/17/08 monica characters are entertaining. good story line. kept me on the edge of my couch. 5 stars
2/05/08 j. fox Loved this movie. Anyone who has ever been close to a grandparent will love it. 5 stars
12/05/07 Ray Matthew The prune who reviewed this film needs to have his heart taken out of cold storage. 5 stars
5/25/07 sandiekid great film for understanding how lonely widows can be 5 stars
5/15/07 David Pollastrini didn't think much of it. 2 stars
4/01/07 jeanne William Goss: you're a rude, patronizing, little SHIT. You'll be old and "parched" one day. 4 stars
1/21/07 Danny You youngsters probably won't get it.... 4 stars
1/10/07 the frog top on my list this year. simply wonderful. 5 stars
12/31/06 ginjo 62 and all grown up...a requirement to understanding the compassion associated w/this film 5 stars
9/21/06 mary morris does anyone know the song from it 5 stars
8/12/06 Bo One of the best I've seen this year 5 stars
8/12/06 Marilynn Bowler Absolutely loved it! Will buy the video as soon as it comes out. 5 stars
7/18/06 DSG Excellent 5 stars
6/14/06 leon cane if you love your mom or your grandmother you'll love this - there IS dignity in old age 5 stars
5/06/06 Heather Runyan this movie was cool 4 stars
12/09/05 bill m. this is a delightful film. it is well-acted by all and very realistic. 5 stars
11/28/05 ann sprow wonderful 5 stars
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Directed by
  Dan Ireland

Written by
  Ruth Sacks

  Joan Plowright
  Rupert Friend
  Anna Massey
  Zoe Tapper
  Georgina Hale
  Millicent Martin

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