A Story for Everyone
The terrific, wonderfully well-written script is what made legendary actress Vanessa
Redgrave (CORIOLANUS, ATONEMENT) instantly sign up for UNFINISHED SONG. Though
Hollywood has recently rediscovered the lucrative power of the "grey pound," as the
ever socially conscious 75-year-old Redgrave points out, aside from rare classics like
THE BRIDGES OF MADISON COUNTY there still aren't many movies about older people.
"Old Age Pensioners don't get a look in anywhere really, in our society, and I'm not
just talking about the film world. In life they get abused, their funds get taken away
from them and they get treated very badly," says Redgrave. "I love the fact my
character, Marion, has become a member of an Old Age Pensioners' choir. That is a
very, very special subject for a story. But the point is not just the subject, it's how well-
written it is. And there are many different layers to the story. There's the layer of what
an extraordinary life-giving role the choir has, the live-giving element of Elizabeth's
story and the story of my husband and our son. This is really a film about three
Because of that, UNFINISHED SONG is a film that everyone can identify with. The
majority of people have a parent or grandparent, so the story touches a universal
Christopher Eccleston (DOCTOR WHO, THE SHADOW LINE) who plays James, Marion's
adult son, likens it to Charles Dickens's timeless classic A Christmas Carol. To him Arthur
is a miser like Ebenezer Scrooge, not of money, but of emotion -- particularly towards
his only son. As Eccleston sees it, UNFINISHED SONG is about "a kind of spiritual rebirth
of this older man who has really been quite unhappy and depressed, but by the end
of the film he's opened up."
An actor from a younger generation, 26 year-old Gemma Arterton (TAMARA DREWE,
PRINCE OF PERSIA) was, like Vanessa Redgrave, also attracted to the project
because of the script. "Paul's such a great writer. So simplistic and beautiful. Just like
real life," she says. Arterton, who plays the choir's enthusiastic young volunteer leader
Elizabeth, responded strongly to a story set in a world she recognized. "I grew up on a
council estate. Arthur is like the dads and granddads where I grew up. The
community center we used was like the one I used to go to for Brownies."
All the lead cast, young and old, have their pick of big projects, yet all responded so
strongly to Paul's script that they worked for below their usual rates. Arterton explains
why: "Simply, it just spoke to me and made me cry. I wanted to do it so badly. I said
to Paul, 'look, I'll do it for free, it's so good.' He said 'I might take you up on that!'"
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