Unfinished Song isn’t exactly a comedy – unless, perhaps, you’re comparing it to the likes of Amour. Then sure, it’s a hoot. The film tackles a rather sensitive subject – death – with poignancy and humor and a heavy dose of melancholy. So let’s call it what it is – a melanchomedy. It’s a slow, sweet and funny indie in the vein of a Quartet or Best Exotic Marigold Hotel.
The London-set story revolves around a curmudgeon named Arthur (Terence Stamp) who resents that his dying wife Marion (Vanessa Redgrave) won’t give up singing with a local choir made up of spunky seniors. The group has a rather unconventional repertoire that includes a rock/rap mix of “I Wanna Have Sex” and “Love Shack”. For Marion, the choir isn’t just about the music. It’s about the friendships and the pure joy of performing. Arthur doesn’t get it – until his beloved Marion is gone and he’s forced to embark on his own journey of self-discovery. The process includes repairing his relationship with his adult son James (Christopher Eccleston in a small, but powerful role) and mending fences with the choir. The film feels a bit rushed and formulaic near the end. And there are some flaws with character development, particularly involving the young choir director Elizabeth (Gemma Arterton). But ultimately, Unfinished Song (originally titled “A Song for Marion”) is a sweet and relatable film that is aptly dedicated, as the closing credits state, “to family.” So bring Kleenex.