Dallas Voice (Dallas, Tex.), Vol. 22, No. 41, Ed. 1 Friday, February 24, 2006 Page: 43 of 100
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Lobbying for ai fection
New take on 'Harold arid Maude'-iike friendship is well worth the visit
By Steve Warren Contributing Film Critic
Let's plow right into it. Joan
Plowright failed to get Oscar's atten-
tion with "Mrs. Palfrey at The
Claremont" because Judi Dench cap-
tured the "old person" slot. Lady
Olivier doesn't have the same "Look
at me, I'm acting!" style that calls
attention to itself. She's so natural, it's
easy to forget she hasn't lived the
same life as Sarah Paltrey, even
though she's reached the same age.
In this predictably heartwarming
tale of cultural exchange between age
and youth, the widow Palfrey, not
wanted by her daughter, moves into a
residence hotel in London. After a lifetime as
"somebody's daughter, somebody's wife, some-
body's mother," she wants to spend the rest of
her days as herself.
The Claremont has seen better days, as have
its guests — a group of mild eccentrics played by
a cast with an eternity of expe-
rience among them. The indi-
vidual rooms couldn't be more
spartan if they were in Greece,
so the residents look forward to
sharing meals (but never
tables) in the dining room and
watching "Sex and the City" in
the television room. They gossip about each
other, but no one does anything worth gossiping
Mrs. Arbuthnot (Anna Massey) is the first to
befriend Mrs. Palfrey and is the one who teaches
her, "We aren't allowed to die here." Mrs. Post
(Marcia Warren) is the interrogator, Mrs. Burton
(Georgina Hale) the flamboyant one, Mrs. De
Salis (Millicent Martin) the retired actress whose
(probably gay) son (Michael Culkin) lives with
her and is still active in the theater. Then there's
Mr. Osborne (Robert Lang), who hasn't given up
hope of female companionship.
Mrs. Palfrey has a grandson in London but he
doesn't return her calls. The other residents,
never having seen him, refer to him as her
Everything changes the day Mrs. Palfrey
stumbles on the sidewalk outside the basement
flat of Ludovic Meyer (newcomer Rupert
Friend), a 26-year-old struggling writer who
Register To Win Two
CIRQUE DU SOLEIL
TURNING MUSIC INTO MOTION
MRS. PALFREYATTHE CLAREMONT
B Director Dan Ireland
Cast: Joan Plowrlght, Rupert Friend
Anna Massey and Michael Culkin
Opens today exclusively at Landmark's Inwood Theatre
1 hr., 48 Bin, Not rated.
AND MY SONNYBOY IS STRAIGHT, REALLY: Ludovic (Rupert Friend) pre
tends to be the grandson of Mrs. Palfrey (Joan Plowright).
becomes her best friend and poses as her grand-
son when he visits her at the Claremont. He has
such perfect manners and respect for age, not to
mention the long hair of a drag queen who does-
n't want to wear a wig. The most surprising
moment in the movie is the revelation that he's
Ludo's ex-girlfriend sees
him with Mrs. Palfrey and
refers to them as "Harold and
Maude," but there's never
any question of intergenera-
tional romance. They merely
fill gaps in each other's lives
and help each other with their problems. He
gives her companionship, she gives him inspira-
tion for stories. She also helps bim mend fences
with his estranged mother (Clare Higgins) and
inadvertently plays Cupid, indirectly causing
Ludo to meet Gwendolyn (Zoe Tapper).
Adapted by Ruth Sacks from a novel by
Elizabeth Taylor (not the actress), "Mrs. Palfrey
at The Claremont" was directed by Dan Ireland,
an all-American boy who seems right at home in
Less ambitious — and less wealthy — than
Mrs. Henderson, Mrs. Palfrey lives modestly and
makes small differences in a few lives. We can
all learn from her homespun wisdom: "Always
remember to make the most of every moment."
The opening narration tells us, "She came from a
world of sensible choices."
If you're in the mood for this kind of movie,
"Mrs. Palfrey at The Claremont" is a sensible
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A CIRQUE DU SOLEIL LIVE MUSIC EVENT
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information and any changes to the show schedule.
02.24.06 I dallas voice I 43
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Vercher, Dennis. Dallas Voice (Dallas, Tex.), Vol. 22, No. 41, Ed. 1 Friday, February 24, 2006, newspaper, February 24, 2006; Dallas, Texas. (texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth238897/m1/43/?rotate=90: accessed October 23, 2018), University of North Texas Libraries, The Portal to Texas History, texashistory.unt.edu; crediting UNT Libraries Special Collections.