The Austin Chronicle

Finding Your Feet

Rated PG-13, 111 min. Directed by Richard Loncraine. Starring Imelda Staunton, Celia Imrie, Timothy Spall, Joanna Lumley, David Hayman, Indra Ové, John Sessions, Josie Lawrence, Richard Hope, Victoria Wicks, Sian Thomas, Jacqueline Ramnarine, Marianne Oldham.

REVIEWED By Marjorie Baumgarten, Fri., April 20, 2018

A socialite, mortified by the actions of her husband, moves in with her estranged sister, a free spirit whose limited financial means are a source of embarrassment. In time, she loosens up, learns to love and lose again, and discovers the inherent value of family and friends. No, it’s not Woody Allen’s Blue Jasmine, though plot similarities abound. Here’s another clue: The woman takes part in her sister’s dance group for elders and her participation awakens her joie de vivre. Perhaps it’s a follow-up to the Vanessa Redgrave/Terence Stamp starrer Unfinished Song, in which a grumpy British pensioner gets a new lease on life by joining his dead wife’s choral group? But no, even though the guess grows somewhat warmer with the British angle. By the time the socialite’s dance troupe is invited to perform in Rome, this movie will put you in the mind of Three Coins in the Fountain, but again your guess would fall flat. The film in question turns out to be the latest from Richard Loncraine (Richard III, Wimbledon), a self-affirmation romp about learning to take leaps of faith.

The familiar narrative gambits of Finding Your Feet aren’t the problem here as much as their heavy-handed execution. From the title forward to the conclusion, in which two would-be lovers unite on the other side of a dark tunnel, everything is loaded with double meanings and obvious significance. Nothing occurs in the film that is unpredictable, nor are any of the story’s melancholic elements real downers or mood-changers. It is a lesson about milking the joy of life until the very end. It’s never too late to start over, make amends, or take a leap of faith, the film tells us. It conveys an inspirational message, yet the film’s delivery with a good amount of sass and humor makes it entertaining and undemanding.

Above all, what lifts Finding Your Feet off the ground is its amazing cast, who comprise a lineup that is must-see no matter the playground they’re corralled into. Staunton’s Lady Sandra Abbott may lose her peerage but not her personality when she discovers her husband has carried on a five-year affair with her best friend. The star of Vera Drake and the Harry Potter films keeps a twinkle about her mouth even before her change of hairdo notifies us that the character has turned an emotional corner. The presence of Timothy Spall (Life Is Sweet and the aforementioned Harry Potter films) and Celia Imrie (TV’s Better Things and Absolutely Fabulous) immediately renders any movie worth seeing. And even in an underwritten part, Imrie's AbFab co-star Joanna Lumley comes through with some winning sotto-voce asides. A perfect outing for the afternoon-matinee set, Finding Your Feet keeps its tootsies planted on the ground while only requiring leaps from its fictional characters. The implicit message is that departing life with no regrets is something that only happens in the movies.

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