It’s probably just the films I am choosing to watch these days, but it is a great time for older actresses. Juniper stars Charlotte Rampling and she hasn’t lost an iota of her screen charisma at the ripe old age of 76. Here she plays Ruth, an alcoholic grandmother who has come to New Zealand to recuperate after breaking a leg. She’s not an easy person to be around. Her son skips town almost immediately, leaving her with his teenage son and her nurse. And neither of them really wants to be around her much. You sense from the setup that it’s going to be one of those curmudgeon changling plots with everyone all lovey by the end, and it is somewhat that, but so much better in large part because of Rampling’s presence.
The plot revolves around young Sam (George Ferrier), still mourning his mother’s death not too long ago, and having never known the grandmother that he believes his father hates, he has the responsibility of taking care of her suddenly trust upon him. Ruth is a chronic though functional alcoholic. She lives in the room where Sam’s mother died, spending her days drinking gin. She was once a beautiful, bad-ass war photographer we learn with a very exciting life, and she’s not too thrilled about being stuck there either. At first she’s a royal pain in the ass, ringing her call bell with an evil glee to get Sam’s attention. But as you know will happen, the two of them slowly thaw towards one another. There is a nurse she’s brought along, but mostly it’s Sam and Ruth each letting the other in, inch by inch.
The script isn’t great, and you pretty much know what will happen, but it is oddly satisfying watching these two come to terms with themselves and one another. And Charlotte Rampling is a treasure! I recommend this one to movie lovers looking for a small story that rises above its limits with a couple of wonderful performances.