For a movie whose title refers to the extremities, “Finding Your Feet” sure is on-the-nose. There is nary a turn of plot that moviegoers of a certain age won’t be able to predict. (If they also happen to enjoy British TV series, they can probably improvise some of the dialogue, too.)
And yet this dramedy about middle-class Londoners in their 60s and 70s getting on with life has a genial watchability – even a stubborn relevance – thanks to its crackerjack ensemble cast, who play characters just eccentric enough to keep things tasty. All are rebounding (whether from divorce, widowhood or loneliness) and aiming to keep their minds looking forward, their hearts open to romance and their regrets at bay. If, reading this, you are experiencing flashbacks to “The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel” and its sequel, you should be. “Finding Your Feet” shares much of the same concept and a bit of the same cast.
One good lady is in sore need of some eccentricity: Sandra (Imelda Staunton), a snooty suburbanite who we meet in the posh mansion she shares with her husband, Mike (John Sessions). Sandra has organized a party to celebrate Mike’s recent knighthood, capping his long career in law enforcement. But when she walks in on him and her best friend (Josie Lawrence) canoodling, she discovers, to her chagrin, that they’ve been conducting a long affair. Sandra makes an uncustomary scene and moves in with her estranged older sister, Elizabeth.
Elizabeth (Celia Imrie) – or Bif, as she is known – is the free spirit to Sandra’s Miss Priss: an aging hippie with a free-love past who lives in a cluttered subsidized apartment in East London, and who smokes pot with her buddy Charlie (Timothy Spall), who lives on a houseboat.
Bif’s colorful circle of friends gradually draws Sandra in, convincing her to join the dance class they attend at a nearby community center. Charlie doesn’t much care for Sandra at first, but after they waltz together – well, you can see where this is going.
Director Richard Loncraine (“5 Flights Up”) wisely gets out of the way for the most part, letting his cast breathe life into the limp cliches that have been woven by screenwriters Meg Leonard and Nick Moorcroft.
But no performance, no matter how fine, can quite peel the mold off an old joke about Viagra - not to mention another about the sexual endowments of a man of color. The first gag is stale; the second a tasteless throwback.
Eventually, the dance class decides to stage a flash-mob performance in Piccadilly Circus for charity. Predictably, they are invited to do a recital in Rome, where all roads – and so many movie plotlines – lead.
At one point, Bif gives her baby sister a piece of advice: “It’s one thing being scared of dying, Sandra. It’s a whole other thing being scared of living.”
It’s not that the sentiment isn’t true. It’s just that, like so much of “Finding Your Feet,” it’s as plain as the nose on your face.