Imelda Staunton, Timothy Spall, and other talents could benefit from a more polished story
So you think you can still dance? That’s the question ultimately leveled at Imelda Staunton’s character in this comedy-drama about retirement-age Brits. The Harry Potter franchise actress plays Sandra, the snobby and uptight wife of John Session’s well-heeled policeman Mike, who we first discover overseeing a party to celebrate hubbie being made a Lord. Alas, Sandra is soon herself discovering Mike canoodling with a family friend and, as it turns out, his lover-of-five-years, Pamela (Josie Lawrence).
What is a pillar of suburban British society to do when she discovers her upper middle-class life is a sham? Why, of course, move in with her free-spirited, weed-smoking sister Bif, played by Celia Imrie (The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel). After trying to drink her problems away, Sandra reluctantly agrees to her sibling’s suggestion that they attend a local dance class for folks of similar vintage to themselves. There, over time, Staunton’s character finds both her childhood love of choreography and her zest for life being rekindled with help from fellow attendees portrayed by Joanna Lumley (Absolutely Fabulous), David Hayman (Taboo), and Timothy Spall (Secrets and Lies), whose own spouse no longer recognizes him, due to Alzheimer’s.
If you’re thinking this movie from director Richard Loncraine (Wimbledon, the Ian McKellen-starring Richard III) sounds a lot like a Love Actually for the Golden Years set then you’re not too out of the step with the project, though Meg Leonard and Nick Moorcroft’s script would certainly benefit from a polish by that film’s writer-director, Richard Curtis. While the personal travails of Staunton and Spall’s character inspire sympathy, the supporting parts are much more vaguely sketched. Moreover, it’s hard to feel all that invested in the film’s peg, the upward trajectory of the dance class, when the stakes seem so low, even after these amateur hoofers are offered the unlikely opportunity to strut their stuff abroad. Like an uncertain dancer itself, Finding Your Feet leans heavily on its cast of British screen greats. Luckily, Staunton, Imrie, Spall, Lumley et al are up to the task of dancing around most of the plot’s more tired or ill-considered moments. B-