Film Review: Late Bloomers (2011)

“Did you see how he combined misogyny with just blatant ageism”

A film that passed me by on its 2011 release (possibly as it’s a French film, though English-language), Julie Gavras’ Late Bloomers entertained me much more than the rather tepid critical response had led me to expect. I think this is mainly because the script, written by Gavras with Olivier Dazat, treats its protagonists Adam and Mary with equal importance.

Both heading into their sixties after thirty-odd years of marriage, a mid-to-late-life crisis hits the couple in different ways. He’s an architect who throws himself into working late nights with young associates rather than design retirement homes and feeling neglected, she focuses on her doctor’s advice to keep active after an incident of memory loss leaves her shaken. With three adult children watching haplessly, their parents’ different responses to the reality of ageing threatens to shatter all their worlds.

The rhythm of Late Bloomers is that of a gentle comedy and with Isabella Rossellini and William Hurt at the helm, it works really quite charmingly. His truculent stubbornness is inspired and abetted, in part, by the flirtatiousness of a young colleague (Arta Dobroshi) but no slouch in the same department, her confidence is boosted by the attentions of Hugo Speer’s hunk of a gym owner. As they flirt with infidelity and separation and the sheer strangeness of the situation they’ve tumbled into, both actors give great performances.

They’re helped by a quality ensemble – Simon Callow, Joanna Lumley and Nicholas Farrell represent the more experienced brigade of friends, doling out their hard-won wisdom (‘Growing old is not for sissies!’) with alacrity, whilst Aidan McArdle, Kate Ashfield and Luke Treadaway as their three very different children have their own emotional battles to conquer as their parental relationships fluctuate considerably. Along with the excellent Doreen Mantle as Mary’s plain-speaking mother, Late Bloomers is a minor bittersweet beauty.

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