Marion (Vanessa Redgrave) possesses an eternally optimistic temperament, a lust for life and a sincere love for music. She is a member of a senior choir known as The OAPS and they are being mentored by Elizabeth (played by Gemma Arterton).The choir is competing for a place in the pretentious Shadowsong Choir Festival and secure a place in the finals by singing belters such as Salt n Pepa's Let's Talk about Sex, The Ace of Spades by Motorhead and Chaka Khan's Ain't Nobody.
When Marion is diagnosed with terminal cancer, she frets that she will not be alive to compete in the finals with her beloved choir. Her husband, Arthur(Terrence Stamp),is the polar opposite to her in disposition. He is, unfortunately, a miserable, cantankerous old git. He does not comprehend Marion’s love of music. Together, they have a son, James(Christopher Eccleston) and a granddaughter, Jennifer. The relationship between father and son is icy and strained.
Marion passes away one night in a very profound scene when her life passes the streetlight outside flickers as she draws her last breath. It is a very powerful use of imagery. Arthur is so lost by her passing and tells his son that it is best that they avoid each other at Marion's funeral. He has completely isolated himself.
Eventually, Arthur unwillingly joins the OAP choir, in an attempt to be closer to his late wife and honour her affinity with singing and music.
Arthur, as a result, strikes an unlikely, yet firm friendship with Elizabeth – their common ground being two tragically lost souls united by music. Elizabeth confides in him that she does not have any friends her own age, as she is a school teacher and in her spare time helps out with the choir, so the age groups she surrounds herself with are not coinciding with her own. She privately helps him with his personal lament for his dead wife, his Song for Marion – the objective being to sing it for her at the competition, despite his worry about what people will think, and his constant protest at the idea of singing in public.
When The OAPS are expelled from the competition for not being properly attired, they are all devastated. Arthur, however, refuses to accept this expulsion and storms back on stage, The OAPS in tow and sings the most beautiful ‘Song for Marion’, that being his version of Billy Joel's ‘Lullabye (Goodnight my Angel)’,ending the piece with a single, moving tear.
This action, as well as his experience with the choir, gives Arthur peace mends his relationship with his son.
Song for Marion is a heartwarming film, full of heart, sorrow and, significantly, humour while exploring the fragile human condition. Arterton and Stamp portray their characters with genuine substance and consistency, yielding two very likeable characters.
Song for Marion is in cinemas February 22.