Elsa & Fred

What a pleasure to watch a top-notch 2014 American remake of a top- notch 2005 Spanish film. "Fred y Elsa" won the Golden Space Needle Award a few years ago so we happily lined up again for the 2014 Seattle International Film Festival screening of this new version.

Director Michael Radford, working with scriptwriter Anna Pavignano, has enlisted a gold-plated cast for this predictable and utterly enjoyable story. "Predictable" isn't always bad, there are times we have a pretty good idea where we are going, but we also know we are going to enjoy every step of the way getting there. On the other hand, who could have predicted that broken pipe?

We watch:
  • Christopher Plummer ("The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo" 2011) is curmudgeonly Fred, recently widowed and moved against his will from his home into a small apartment where he is stuck with an in-home health care worker. (How in the world can a man Plummer's age be so handsome!)
  • Shirley MacLaine ("Downton Abbey") We first meet Elsa when she backs into a car owned by Fred's son-in-law that's parked in front of the apartment building. His skateboarding grandson witnesses the incident so she tries to swear him to secrecy. She has no more than a passing acquaintance with the truth, but wait until she finally takes Fred out to a fancy restaurant. You'll laugh!
  • Marcia Gay Harden ("The Newsroom") is his daughter Lydia, anxious to get him settled and determined to keep that strange new neighbor away from her "poor old" father.
  • Chris Noth ("The Good Wife") is his son-in-law Jack, always with a new get-rich-quick scheme.
  • Scott Bakula ("Behind the Candelabra") is Elsa's wonderful son Raymond, successful, loving and wryly supportive.
  • Erika Alexander ("Last Man Standing") is Laverne, that unwelcome in-home health care worker. She is wise and patient.
  • Wendell Pierce ("The Wire") is Armande, the manager of the building where our folks live. See the look on his face when he figures out what's going on....
The point of the movie is that it's never too late to enjoy life. These people do not try to pretend that they are anything other than their own age, they are frankly over the hill and have made their peace with it. We should all be so wise...
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