Golden Years - Film Review

   Golden Years, a story of age against the machine, is a light-hearted crime romp in which the elders of our society try and take back what they feel entitled to after a life of hard-work and honest graft.

   Having lived by the letter of the law throughout their younger years our heroes are angered as their pension pots have been rendered worthless in the fall-out of the financial crisis; how, they ask, is this fair? Shouldn't their fiscal integrity be rewarded in the final decades of their existence? As the local community club is faced with closure and the Goodes' struggle with their medicinal bills, our protagonists feel let down by life and decide its better to burn out than to fade away.

   The solution to grievances the pensioners label as "daylight robbery" can be neatly-filed in the "eye-for-an-eye" category of karmic retribution - Arthur Goode (Bernard Hill) capitalises on a serendipitous slapstick accident outside of a bank, relieving the institution of a substantial amount of money. A Robin Hood-inspired crime-wave thus kicks off with a gang of senior citizens (disguised in "old people" masks) commit a series of faux armed robberies to correct the ill done to them. Good for them, we cheer, whilst choosing to ignore how much the current government have ring-fenced cuts to the older citizens of Britain in favour of demonising the poor, the disabled and the foreign.

   Directed by John Miller, Golden Years is a film clearly hoping to emulate the success of the growing niche of movies featuring old Brits looking for happiness in their autumn years - The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel and Venus providing prime examples of these. And, we must ask, why not?

   Unfortunately for Miller's film, curiously co-written by DIY TV presenter Nick Knowles, the vast majority of the humour and story here is based on the assumption that "old people shouldn't do this kind of thing." If you find elderly people brandishing sex toys inherently funny, then this may raise a chortle every now and again. As Arthur and his wife Martha (Virginia McKenna) have a serious discussion in their caravan we hear a commotion of a gathering throng outside their parked mobile home: "If you're doing dogging you're supposed to keep the curtains open!" There's a very British feel to the laughs on offer here.

   Yet, it would be unfair to entirely damn Golden Years by the level of sophistication it fails to show. This is an unpretentious, easy film made with a low budget and a clear audience in mind. Yes, many of the technical aspects of the movie may feel amateurish and the script may occasionally meander across tones but, at its heart, Golden Years is an honest feature with real warmth held towards its rag-tag gang of senior citizens.

   There's some serious issues covered in the narrative - the redistribution of wealth by neo-Con governments, the collapse of community - and if these topics are discussed more widely because of this absurdist comedy then I doff my cap to the movie's makers.

GOLDEN YEARS is in cinemas from 29 April

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