I really, really enjoyed this film…but I am pretty happy these aren’t my parents!
by Martin Hafer
I just finished watching Elsa & Fred and really, really enjoyed myself. However, at the same time I wonder just how many folk will go and see this neat little movie. After all, it’s about two very old and rather strange people who find love in their final years…and this sort of thing isn’t exactly box office gold. Most romance pictures today involve very young, very beautiful people and not people in their 80s! Frankly, I’m a bit tired of those typical love stories. Some recent films like Something’s Gotta Give, The Face of Love and now Elsa & Fred have all explored relationships with folks who are neither taut, tanned nor twenty-something and I say more power to ’em!
Christopher Plummer stars as Fred–a cranky old widower who is sick-to-death over losing his independence and has no desire to grow old gracefully. When his daughter arranges for him to move to a new apartment, he seems content with just lying in bed…waiting to die. However, his rock-solid retirement plans are upset due to his eccentric neighbor, Elsa (Shirley MacLaine). Unlike Fred, she is vivacious and full of life–and loves to make up lies about the fantastic life she’s led. To put it bluntly, she’s a bit of a wacko….but a fun wacko. And, they soon decide to throw caution to the wind and enjoy their final days together.
While the ending is a bit of a downer (I gotta be honest about this), I thoroughly enjoyed the film because these two quirky characters seemed so unlike the people you normally see in movies. They are not walking clichés but older people who have needs, desires and dreams–and who refuse to grow old gracefully! Plummer and MacLaine are simply terrific and it also didn’t hurt that they had a very strong supporting cast–which is surprising considering that this is a relatively low-budget film. But, despite the budget, it really doesn’t skimp on anything and really delivers. Plus, it made me smile…and not enough movies do that.