Again with the grumpy old geezers burnished into old dears just in time for Christmas by a rosy young beauty with problems of her own? The twist here being that the embittered seniors languishing in a down-at-heel Irish retirement home appear to be former flower children, on account of them swearing like troopers and whipping out the tokes whenever Authority leaves the room. It was surely shrinking employment opportunities in British film rather than the caliber of the material that attracted such a stellar cast to this ensemble piece adapted from a short story by Maeve Binchy, a superior pop-fiction writer widely read by my mum and her friends. When Pat O’Connor made a movie out of a Binchy novel, the charming 1995 Circle of Friends, it launched the admittedly brief career of Minnie Driver. Though capably enough directed by Anthony Byrne, I can’t see How About You doing anything for Hayley Atwell (Brideshead Revisited, The Duchess) that she hasn’t already done for herself. As Rosy Young Beauty, she pluckily holds her own against the best in the business—Vanessa Redgrave as a boozy faded screen star, Imelda Staunton and Brenda Fricker as sheltered spinsters put away before their time, and Joss Ackland as an angry widower waiting to die. But the only crowds this stodgy little movie is likely to please tend to be home on a Saturday night, watching PBS.
This article from the Village Voice Archive was posted on November 12, 2008