The Over the Hill Band -- Film Review

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PALM SPRINGS -- A life-affirming comedy from the producers of "Moscow, Belgium" with elements of "Calendar Girls" and "Young at Heart" (not to mention the Swiss film, "Late Bloomers") would never win a prize for bold originality, but you still have to give it props.

When the formula works, it works-and if you take a premise involving a trio of Belgian grandmas reforming their old rock 'n' roll band, albeit with an updated sound, you've got the can't-miss, terrifically-performed proposition known as "The Over the Hill Band" ("Meisjes").

Although it wasn't offered up by Belgium for Oscar consideration (those honors were taken by the edgier "The Misfortunates"), the trifle should play well with international audiences, especially those of a certain age.

Marilou Mermans' Claire is a recent 70-year-old widow who, in an effort to reconnect with her estranged, struggling R&B musician son (Jan Van Looveren), ends up talking her two girlfriends (Lea Couzin and Lut Tomsin) into reuniting Sisters in Love.

At first their vintage harmonies don't exactly meld with her son's fresh beats, but, just like their oddball rendition of Pump up the Jam, the conceit grows on you.

Director Geoffrey Enthoven, working off of a cheerfully generic script by "Moscow Belgium" co-writer Jean-Claude Rijckeghem and Chris Craps, keeps things moving at a breezy clip, changing gears for a poignant twist of events that prevents "The Over the Hill Band" from playing a safely familiar refrain.

Venue: Palm Springs International Film Festival
Cast: Jan van Looveren Marilou Mermans Lea Couzin, Lut Tomsin
Director: Geoffrey Enthoven
Screenwriters: Jean-Claude Van Rijckeghem, Chris Craps
Producers: Jean-Claude Van Rijckeghem, Dries Phylpo
Director of photography: Gerd Schelfhout
Music: Stef Caers, Pascal Garnier
Editor: Philippe Ravoet
Sales agent: NeoClassics Films
No MPAA rating, 93 minutes
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