Mrs. Palfrey at the Claremont (2005) starring Joan Plowright, Rupert Friend, Zo Tapper, Robert Lang, Marcia Warren, Anna Massey, Georgina Hale directed by Dan Ireland Movie Review

Mrs. Palfrey at the Claremont (2005)   4/54/54/54/54/5


Rupert Friend and Joan Plowright in Mrs. Palfrey at the Claremont (2005)

Mrs. Palfrey's Brief Encounter

"Mrs. Palfrey at the Claremont" is the sort of movie which I call wish and need fulfilment, the sort of movie which is so charming and beautiful that obvious flaws melt into the background as you fall in love with the characters. At the centre of this wonderful movie is a beautiful story of a friendship between an old lady and a young man who fill a need in each other's life brightening up each other's days whilst the young man learns from his elderly friend. But also at the centre of this movie is Joan Plowright whose performance as the elderly Mrs. Palfrey makes the movie, makes "Mrs. Palfrey at the Claremont" touch your heart in such a beautiful way.

Having not wanted to be a burden on her daughter, widower Mrs. Palfrey (Joan Plowright - Tea with Mussolini) heads to London having seen an advertisement for the Claremont hotel and decided to move in there. The Claremont is not as glamorous as she expected but she bonds with the other long time residents such as the cynical Mrs. Arbuthnot (Anna Massey). But whilst there is friendship and even a surprising marriage proposal Mrs. Palfrey misses her family and despite trying to get in touch with her London based grandson Desmond he never shows up or returns calls. Then one day Mrs. Palfrey meets Ludo (Rupert Friend), a busker and writer who comes to her rescue after she stumbles outside his flat. So starts a beautiful friendship as Ludo becomes a surrogate grandson and even pretends to be Desmond when he visits Mrs. Palfrey at the Claremont whilst she becomes the Grandmother he never had.

Anna Massey as Mrs. Arbuthnot in Mrs. Palfrey at the Claremont (2005)

In truth "Mrs. Palfrey at the Claremont" isn't the most original of movies as there have been others which have delivered on the theme of a friendship, not romance, between an older person and a younger one. And as such I would be wrong to say that what we watch is ground breaking in anyway as Ludo fills the grandson gap in Mrs. Palfrey's life whilst she in turn fills the grandparent gap in his life brightening up each other's lives with Ludo learning so much from her. But it is beautiful, touching and fun which is why it works, you get drawn into the characters and this friendship which really does blossom and that makes it all the more heartbreaking come the end of the movie. But even so you will still be hypnotised by this movie which is so charming that you would have to be mean spirited not to enjoy it.

Whilst not original the actual story and screenplay is good and is full of wonderful little scenes and characters from sweet chats in the park to the quirky other residents in the Claremont. But in truth "Mrs. Palfrey at the Claremont" works because of one person and that is Joan Plowright who is just brilliant as Mrs. Palfrey delivering this charming and beautiful widower who treats Ludo like an adopted grandson. There is such craft in the way Plowright plays Mrs. Palfrey making her real but also that little bit of fantasy, that grandmother that you wish you could have who has all the time in the world to listen and help, who is kind but also still sharp as anything.

But whilst thanks to Joan Plowright you will fall in love with "Mrs. Palfrey at the Claremont" it is not with out its flaws starting with an inconsistent narration from Ludo as he is writing the story. It is too sporadic and sadly feels forced which whilst you end up ignoring is a frustration but then so is Ludo himself. Now I like how Rupert Friend played Ludo because he gets across the side to the character which highlights that he yearns for a grandmother too love and care for but unfortunately the character is too nice to the point of being false. In a way it works because a stronger character would have been a distraction but at times it borders on the overly saccharine in the way Ludo charms Mrs. Palfrey with his kindness and politeness.

What this all boils down to is that "Mrs. Palfrey at the Claremont" is a movie which will charm and melt your heart with its beautiful story and exquisite performance from Joan Plowright. In fact it is so charming that the various flaws end up mostly forgettable as you just sit back and fall for the delightful Mrs. Palfrey.


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