Conventionally Mediocre: Our Review of ‘The Time of Their Lives’

Posted in Movies, Theatrical by - September 22, 2017
Conventionally Mediocre: Our Review of ‘The Time of Their Lives’

It’s been 50 years since Joan Collins made what is arguably the best cameo in the history of Star Trek. And thirty years since she played Alexis Carrington. She has earned the good will that her long career should. But this year she stars in the mediocre The Time of Their Lives. Here she plays Helen Shelly. She’s a film star looking to cross the English channel to attend a film director’s funeral.

Starring alongside her is Pauline Collins, an actress popular in Britain. She plays a character, Priscilla, a housewife that’s the polar opposite of Helen. While Helen makes an effort to look glamorous, Priscilla doesn’t mind looking silly, if she cares at all. Helen are both pushovers in different ways, unfortunately unavoidable for characters their age. But that quality is more apparent in Priscilla.

The Time of Their Lives, a movie starring older women, shows what people of that age face against the world. What’s sadder is how the people around them exhibit all of these prejudices. Priscilla has her braying husband Frank (Ronald Pickup) while Helen suffers under her retirement home’s supervisor Ileana (Allene Quincy). Both, unfortunately, are stock characters, who inadvertently make a comedy out of the isms they represent.

The way to escape these isms, apparently, is to embark on a road trip to France. There they meet Alberto (Franco Nero), an older playboy who takes a liking to Priscilla. Their courting involves marijuana. And the strain they have is supposedly so strong that they start feeling the effects while smoking it. One of this film’s biggest offenses is its refusal to acknowledge how real drugs work.

But of course, real life sets in. A younger man hits on Helen, only to reject her when she kisses them back. Both leads run into scenes like this in the film, where they get to react to situations and the actors get to show some vulnerability. But they’re few and far between, the script choosing to depict them as shrews for supposed comic effect.

The film is uninspiring and not worth anyone’s money. Although I’m trying to look for things that save it other than its stars. At least it’s direct in its aims and the protagonists meet five minutes after the movie stars. That’s a quicker meet-cute than most movies. And director Roger Goldby’s visuals in telling its Eurocentric story are passable, although it borders on frustratingly conventional.

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While Paolo Kagaoan is not taking long walks in shrubbed areas, he occasionally watch movies and write about them. His credentials are as follows: he has a double major in English and Art History. This means that, for example, he will gush at the art direction in the Amityville house and will want to live there, which is a terrible idea because that house has ghosts. Follow him @paolokagaoan on Instagram but not while you're working.