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56 Up

Movie Details

56 Up
  • Genre: Documentary
  • Release Date: 2013-01-04 NY
  • Running Time: 144 min.
  • Directors: Michael Apted, Paul Almond
  • Cast: Michael Apted, Bruce Balden, Jacqueline Bassett, Symon Basterfield, Andrew Brackfield, John Brisby, Peter Davies, Suzanne Dewey, Charles Furneaux, Nicholas Hitchon
  • Producers: Michael Apted, Claire Lewis
  • Distributor: First Run Features
  • Official Site: 56 Up Official Site

Life goes inexorably, chillingly on. The Up series, Michael Apted's famous calendrical march in which a dozen Brits across the class spectrum are interviewed about their lives every seven years, presses on now into its eighth episode, when suddenly all of these pitiable souls are a few creaky strides away from retirement age. Unsurprisingly, several of the Uppers regret their obligation, and more, at 56, simply stop sharing very much. The devastation of time is still the primary drama; as Apted cuts between 1964's brace of cherubic 2nd-graders and the adults they have unceremoniously become since, each subject transforms in the blink of the eye from being a fresh schoolkid sprout to being a heap of dead wood, plagued by obesity, alcohol, emotional wear, illness and bad English dentistry. Apted's entire project is awesome in scale but subject to inevitable diminishing returns: the Brits are cagier and less interesting now that most of their lives' major changes are behind them, and the effort to evoke a half-century of history leaves us less time to linger in any given life story. Not surprisingly, the Up films rise and fall just as lives do – at 56 menopausal struggles grind quietly on, and hereafter we can look forward only to autumnal days and death. Happy New Year.

Michael Atkinson

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