FILM REVIEW: The Time of Their Lives

The Time of Their Lives Mini Poster

It is disappointing when mediocre scripts happen to great actors.

At least, that was the case with The Time of Their Lives. Relatively unknown but seasoned director, Roger Goldby, brings together a stellar cast in what can be described as a road trip, French, rom-com style romp into geriatric dramatic comedy. It tells the story of Helen (Joan Collins) and Priscilla (Pauline Collins), two older women in their ‘twilight’ years who want to take another shot at the life they wanted to live. Along the way, the unlikely pair discover friendship, love, family and of course, heartache and regret.

The movie painstakingly spends thirty percent of the time setting up the already obvious stark contrasts between the two lead characters. It also spends a large portion of the film showing off the tremendous skill of the cinematographer, James Aspinall, with its brilliant photography and location choices. In fact, the greatest triumph of this movie was its brilliant cast and crew, but unfortunately it doesn’t save what could have been a great story and movie.

You are unsure of whether to blame Goldby for his writing, screenplay and directing choices at the beginning of the movie, but unfortunately, it becomes obvious that he is the culprit.

Joan Collins, playing the role of a washed-up version of, well, Joan Collins, shines in her role of a self-centred, ageing Hollywood starlet. She shows the audience the reason why we still know her name to this day with an honest and refreshing performance interspersed with some brilliant comedic timing from the veteran diva. Pauline Collins was no less, playing the part of a less-than-appreciated housewife who grieves for a lost son but is at the mercy of a seemingly heartless husband (convincingly portrayed by Exotic Marigold Hotel star Ronald Pickup). The movie shows how Priscilla evolves and finds her identity and footing as she is forced to become a friend of Helen’s.

There were too many moments in the movie that were left lingering and undeveloped. We never really get to find out enough about the characters, nor does Goldby give them the space to express themselves. There were some powerful moments that could have set the defining tone for the movie that were left entirely neglected. For instance, there is a moment that we see in the trailer where Priscilla and Helen face off in a vulnerable heart-to-heart in a restaurant and Helen, profoundly proclaims, “I don’t want to just carry on”. Every nuance was perfectly captured in the eyes of these skilled actresses. Alas, the moment lasted all of two minutes. But yet, the film devotes almost forty minutes to confusing ferry, car and building shots, and sweeping references to the pivotal characters of Alberto and Lucy (expertly played by Franco Nero and Joely Richardson respectively).

It is hard to get over the back and forth brain games that Priscilla plays in her mind, and the seeming lack of any kind of growth on the part of Helen. Even if we suspend logic, this movie falls short of fulfilling its purpose of a comedy, a romantic film or even a friendship flick. With tighter direction and a more discerningly written screenplay, The Time of Their Lives could have truly lived up to its name.

If anything, the performances of the ever-gorgeous Joan and Pauline Collins, were a pleasure to watch. Sadly, even their timeless charm could not salvage this movie.

Words by Asha Kurup.