Set in the South West of England, Golden Years depicts a powerful story of how society disregard the elderly. Arthur Goode (Bernard Hill) lives his quiet life, caring for his wife Martha (Virginia McKenna) who suffers from Crohn’s disease, delivering meals to his miserable neighbour and listening to his friend Charlie and how much he hates Pot Noodles in the nursing home. Top it off with a few pints down the bowls club with his friends and Arthur is pretty much living the dream.
Arthur’s simple life becomes at risk when Martha’s medication is no longer available through the NHS so he has to fork out much more a month for it. He then finds out that his pension has been massively reduced for reasons he can’t comprehend. So he does what anyone else would in this situation. He robs a bank. He planned it, bottled it and then accidentally pulls it off and gets away with £50,000. With no witnesses, Arthur keeps the cash and donates a lump sum to the bowls club and splashes out a bit on his wife. Not to the extent of the wise guys in Goodfellas; he only buys her a caravan.
Throughout the film the radio represents a narrator’s role. Setting the scene at the beginning with reports of lost pensions and such, right through to reporting on the bank heists that are being carried out around the Cotswolds. This works well as the radio is still a staple part of retired life. It keeps the rest of the community informed of current affairs in the absence of social media. Paying homage to a way of life in the not so distance past.
Constantly being undermined, patronized and forgotten about by the younger generation, Arthur and Martha’s vigilante streak is completely understandable. The older generation are being shat on by all those around them. The crimes they commit are juxtaposed in itself as no one suspects them and no one ever would because of their age. The couple are pensioners so they are rendered irrelevant. It’s a truly bleak outlook. Age is an issue for the other side too. Sid (Alun Armstrong) is the detective hoping to crack the case. Nearing retirement himself, he too is ridiculed by younger, deluded detective Stringer (Brad Moore). So the battle of age is apparent across the board.
Golden Years is a wonderfully joyous film and strongly connects its audience emotionally with the subject matter. At no point does this production make it seem like the criminals are the bad guys. It’s simply people standing up for what they know is right. A film like this will make my generation rethink how they perceive the elderly and retired. It’s very much a case of respect your elders. Much respect.
Dir: John Miller
Scr: John Miller, Nick Knowles, Jeremy Sheldon
Cast: Bernard Hill, Virginia McKenna, Phillip Davis, Alun Armstrong, Sue Johnston, Brad Moore, Simon Callow
Prd: Mark Foligno
Music: Neil Athale
Running time: 96 minutes
Golden Years is available on DVD & Digital HD from 29th August
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