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'Unfinished Song' Plays a Familiar Tune

Terence Stamp, Vanessa Redgrave travel a well-worn path, but the journey is worth taking

Rating: PG-13       Running Time: 93 minutes
Director: Paul Andrew Williams
Stars: Terence Stamp, Vanessa Redgrave, Gemma Arterton, Christopher Eccleston

If I hadn't already seen The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel, Amour and Quartet before watching Unfinished Song, I would have absolutely loved it. But by now, this territory — late-in-life characters wrestling with illness, relationships and long-standing personality quirks — is becoming fairly familiar.

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That said, British director Paul Andrew Williams offers a quietly joyous portrait of human vulnerability in Unfinished Song, with just enough tension and humor.

The supremely talented character actor Terence Stamp plays grumpy pensioner Arthur, long married to Marion (the beloved Vanessa Redgrave), who has great reason to be bitter, as she's suffering from terminal cancer.

But Marion is as lighthearted as they come, finding happiness singing in a choir. Arthur resents the choir, and he resents their only son, James, played by Christopher Eccleston. (Remember him from The Others?) He isn't willing to share Marion with anyone. It's the youthful choir leader, Elizabeth (Gemma Arterton from Quantum of Solace), who strikes up an extraordinary friendship with Arthur and teaches him that it's never too late to change.