Screened as part of NZIFF 2006
The tale of an unlikely friendship between an elderly widow and a young writer, Mrs Palfrey at the Claremont is an endearing and simple pas de deux for film and theatre veteran Joan Plowright and the up-and-coming Rupert Friend (Wickham in the recent Pride and Prejudice). Plowright clearly savours her best role in years as Mrs P, a 70-something widow striking out on her own after the death of her beloved husband. She would rather stay at the Claremont, a residential hotel in London, and taste her new-found independence than go live with her daughter.
The Claremont has all the trappings, but it's not exactly spacious – and Mrs Palfrey is somewhat dismayed by the gregarious attention of the other residents, played with relish by an equally distinguished cast of septuagenarians including Anna Massey and Millicent Martin. Pluck and a sense of humour buoy her spirits through the scrutiny of this crew, but the failure of her grandson Desmond to visit is galling. When the aspiring young writer Ludovic springs gallantly to her rescue after a fall on the street, a friendship blossoms, amusingly complicated by her request that he impersonate the feckless Desmond. Ludo, it transpires, feels the complementary need for a surrogate grandmother, and their relationship deepens into a bond of real mutual esteem and support.
"A refreshing look at a friendship that ignores age to focus on kindness and wisdom. As in a fine miniature painting, director Dan Ireland and screenwriter Ruth Sacks work in small brushstrokes... The details are what matters, and thanks to a cast of all-star British elders and a mischievous sense of humor, the filmmakers bring those details to vivid life.” — Kirk Honeycutt, Hollywood Reporter