Late Bloomers: Berlin Review

A mild look at a marriage in trouble with top pros acting in low gear.

Julie Gavras’ lightweight drama, which stars William Hurt and Isabella Rossellini as two people who must face the realities of aging, offers no surprises or particular insights.

BERLIN – William Hurt and Isabella Rossellini play a couple whose long marriage runs into the bumps caused by intimations of mortality in Julie Gavras’ lightweight, London-based drama Late Bloomers. While it’s pleasant to watch these two professionals at work, there are no dramatic fireworks.

A snapshot of two people who must learn to face the realities of aging, the film offers no surprises or particular insights and will probably settle more comfortably into TV and DVD releases.

Hurt plays Adam, a top architect whose major achievements have been in designing airports but who is tempted now to tackle the design of a new museum in London’s disused Battersea Power Station. One of the incentives for this is that among the young designers at his firm who are keen on the challenge is an attractive and flirtatious young woman named Maya (Arta Dobroshi).

Adam’s wife Mary (Rossellini), meanwhile, is alarmed by a couple of moments of forgetfulness. She also finds that little things she does to make life a little easier on aging limbs and eyes annoy Adam. He starts working late at the office while she joins an exercise club at a swimming pool run by a handsome man named Peter (Hugo Speer).

Soon Adam starts sleeping at the office and the pair’s three grown children start plotting ways to keep them together. The situation is further complicated because the firm faces financial problems. It is no longer in demand for airports and Adam is neglecting a paying client (Simon Callow), who is keen to build hospices, while spending his time on the speculative museum project.

There’s a sick grandmother and assorted little ones, and the conversations cover predictable ground about families, generations and mid-life crises. Callow relishes some bright lines such as how a hospice is much like a transportation terminal -- somewhere people go on the way to somewhere else.

Joanna Lumley also shines as Mary’s breezy best friend, a do-gooder who confesses that she wishes she’d put more energy into a marriage than into her charitable work.

The film is shot like a TV movie with plenty of light and bright colors. Hurt mixes charm with Adam’s fear of waning talent and vigor while Rossellini plays against her beauty as a woman who finds she needs reassurance about her appeal. They are genial company, but will hardly be remembered by tomorrow.

Venue: Berlin International Film Festival (Berlinale Special)
Production company: Les Films du Worso
Cast: William Hurt, Isabella Rossellini, Joanna Lumley, Simon Callow
Director-screenwriter: Julie Gavras
Screenwriters: Julie Gavras, Oliver Dazat
Producers: Sylvie Pielat, Bertrand Faivre
Director photography: Natalie Durand
Production designer: Eve Stewart
Music: Sodi Marciszewer
Costume designer: Marianne Agertoft
Editor: Pierre Haberer
Sales: Gaumont
No rating, 95 minutes