Unlike Hollywood, British filmmakers see the value of putting older actresses to work. The current formula is the old Harold and Maude shtick: disaffected young man or teen learns how to live from dotty dowager, and vice versa. Joan Plowright got the nod in Mrs. Palfrey at the Claremont; in Jeremy Brock’s debut feature it’s Julie Walters, and she’s a hoot and a holler as “lady actress” Evie Walton, muse and dominatrix for hopelessly adenoidal and poetic 17-year-old Ben Marshall (Rupert Grint, a/k/a Ron Weasley from Harry Potter). They make a fine couple, whether he’s washing vomit out of her hair after he finds her passed out blotto or driving her (illegally — he has only a learner’s permit) to some desperate recital at the Edinburgh International Festival. Unfortunately, the rest of the cast, especially Laura Linney as Ben’s Bible-thumping and minister-humping adulterous mom, need to learn the rules of the road.
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