By Don Simpson | April 12, 2012
Writers: Julie Gavras, Olivier Dazat, David H. Pickering (translation)
Starring: William Hurt, Isabella Rossellini, Doreen Mantle, Kate Ashfield, Aidan McArdle, Arta Dobroshi, Luke Treadaway, Leslie Phillips, Hugo Speer, Joanna Lumley, Simon Callow, Iona Warne, Ryan Quartley, Nicholas Farrell
I should probably start out by mentioning that I am about 20 years shy of the target age demographic for Late Bloomers. That said — Isabella Rossellini and William Hurt still deserve starring roles despite entering their golden years; so, as far as I am concerned, any film that gives them the spotlight is certainly worthy of viewing and supporting.
Mary (Rossellini) and Adam (Hurt) have been married for a long time. Their three kids — James (Aidan McArdle), Giulia (Kate Ashfield) and Benjamin (Luke Treadaway) — have grown up to become successful, self-reliant adults; and Mary’s spunky old mother (Doreen Mantle) lives in the flat next-door. Adam still enjoys a successful career as an architect, while Mary has already retired from her long career as a teacher. Basically, everything is hunky dory for Mary and Adam…until they are each forced to grapple with the inevitability of old age and the encroaching specter of death.
Mary suffers from a fleeting loss of memory that instantly instills in her a paranoia that Alzheimer’s has set in. The incident serves as a wake-up call for Mary, who suddenly comes to the conclusion that she is old. Mary immediately adopts drastic changes in her lifestyle — exercising and volunteering, purchasing a large-button telephone and an adjustable bed, installing safety bars in the bathroom, and beginning a flirtatious affair with a trainer at the gym.
Adam approaches aging in polarizingly different ways, thus creating a rift between him and Mary. In total denial of his age, Adam submits himself to the powers of Red Bull and commences an after-hours project — a competition to design a major new museum — with a group of junior architects, including a sexy young associate (Arta Dobroshi). It is not long before Adam is sleeping at the office. This wild hair is obviously in reaction to his latest assignment at the firm, an innovative retirement community project. Adam does not want “to design storage for hordes of incontinent zombies!” But, it seems, he has no choice… To add fuel to the fire, when Adam is awarded a prestigious career-achievement medal, it is noted that he is a dying breed — “they just don’t make buildings like his anymore.”
Writer-director Julie Gavras’ Late Bloomers is accented by a few Jacques Tati-esque moments, such as when Mary is overwhelmed by the sheer perkiness of the young women in her aqua-fit class or when Adam is mistaken for a retirement home resident while researching his current project. Otherwise, Late Bloomers seems to be designed to appeal to those audiences who are familiar with turning 60. Late Bloomers is brimming with wink-wink, nudge-nudge moments, that the over 60 crowd will probably appreciate; but to younger generations, the characters may come off as one-dimensional stereotypes and the situations as over-tired narrative tropes.