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Elsa & Fred

Year: 2014
Production Co: Cuatro Plus Films
Director: Michael Radford
Writer: Michael Radford/Anna Pavignano
Cast: Christopher Plummer, Shirley MacLaine, Marcia Gay Harden, Chris Noth, George Segal, James Brolin

The presence of two such veteran talents lends this movie more of a prestige gloss than it really deserves.

The story of a cantankerous old grump brought back to life by a free-spirit who's full of life and refuses to give up on them is as oft-trod as an alien invasion, and there aren't a real lot of surprises in the plot to distract from it being something you've seen before.

That said, Christopher Plummer and Shirley MacLaine are both charming and classy in their respective roles, and they give a thin script all the verve they can.

Plummer is the avowed grump Fred who moves into the apartment across the hall from Elsa (MacLaine), a woman so eternally optimistic and hopelessly romantic she's blind to several of the realities in the world around her.

Despite Fred grumbling that he just wants Elsa – and everyone else – to leave him alone, she squirrels her way into his life and it's with curiously little resistance (eventually) that Fred eventually falls for her. The only way the movie can then generate any dramatic tension is by Fred finding out about lies Elsa's told about her life history.

It seems like the movie doesn't want to make a big deal out of them, Elsa convincing Fred to forget about every tall tale she's spun (even while telling another) with suspicious ease and undermining any drama that might have resulted.

It's all framed against the backdrop of a lifelong fantasy she has of being with her true love in the Trevi Fountain like Anita Ekberg in La Dolce Vita.

When it finally happens, the cuts between the original footage and Elsa wading into the water in black and white feel a little bit hackneyed – much like the rest of the film and script. With two far lesser performers it wouldn't have had anything much to recommend it.

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