IT’S not every day that a man gets to celebrate his two beloved grandmothers on the big screen.
But Roger Goldby, the British writer and director of a feel-good buddy movie, called The Time Of Their Lives, released in cinemas today, has done just that.
Goldby has called the two main characters Helen (played by Joan Collins) and Priscilla (played by Pauline Collins), after his two grandmothers, who were in their 90s when they passed away two decades ago.
They are the inspiration for the road movie, which sees two very different women — one a faded Hollywood star, the other a repressed housewife — who team up by accident, become friends and have an extraordinary adventure which brings them from Britain to France.
“Although I have used my grandmothers’ first names for the characters in the film, I should stress that neither of the women in the story are based on them,” Goldby hastens to add.
Their strength, warmth, independence and “wise counsel” to him growing up, left an indelible positive impression about older people though.
The fact that actresses Joan Collins, who will be 84 in May, and 76-year-old Pauline Collins, can still put in leading star performances in their own inimitable way, is a celebration in itself against ageism on the big screen.
As part of the plot, and amidst many madcap adventures, the life-affirming comedy sees the two of them caught in a love triangle with 75–year-old Italian, Alberto ( Franco Nero), driving home the message that it’s never too late to escape; to break free and start over.
His grandmothers were very much on his mind when he wrote the script, Goldby tells Feelgood: “They were able to offer guidance when times were tough emotionally as a teenager and then as a young adult, they were on hand to offer support.
"Both my grandmothers, who incidentally were friends, were a great source of comfort. They were also both very strong independent women, who had both been to university at a time when it would have been rare to go.
“Basically, they were the inspiration because I had such a great connection with them — I could see they had a wisdom, and strength, and thought wouldn’t it be great if they could have an adventure!”
The independent film should appeal hugely to an older niche market; a market which has been trying to replicate the surprise €129,979,725 star box office takings worldwide of The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel, in 2011.
However 51-year-old Goldby says he didn’t write The Time Of Their Lives for a particular market, but because he “wanted to tell this story”.
“I wanted to show older people in a positive light, that they are just like us, just in older bodies and that they deserve respect and admiration and should be listened to.
"It astounds me how poorly we can treat our elderly when we will all be there ourselves one day,” he says.
The hopeful message that it is never too late to change your life for the better and the fact that it’s a female-led story about the transformative power of female friendship, should broaden its appeal across all age groups, he believes.
“What I am so pleased about regarding the film is that Joan and Pauline have pulled off something very special, created two wonderful characters whom audiences identify with and can then live their lives through, as they watch the film,” he says.
“I think it is a celebration of grandmothers and of older people, but also for younger people, to show you can have an adventure. Also Joan and Pauline play the characters so naturally that their adventure is believable, and that is very important.”
For older audiences Joan Collins is an icon, whose most memorable role arguably was playing Alexis Carrington, the beautiful and vengeful ex-wife of tycoon Blake Carrington in soap opera Dynasty, when TVs were the centre of our entertainment universe back in the 1980s.
It’s no surprise that even as an octogenarian, the colourful and feisty actress and author has her own Twitter account from where she fed her 159,000 followers titbits while she was making the film. #TOTL by the way.
Stage and film actress Pauline Collins has a full career behind her also, but for us oldies she will always be memorable for her role in the film Shirley Valentine in 1989 which followed her transformation from her rut as a Liverpool housewife after she heads off on a holiday to Greece with a friend.
The actresses — both who have OBEs — seem like chalk and cheese in their personalities.
“We were very lucky to get them,” says Goldby.
“Yes, they are perfect because in real life they are very different. Both bring something from their past to the role and both worked together before and are friends, so all that important chemistry was there from the start.
"They are inspiring women, still working, still ambitious, totally professional and Franco was a delight also with a great presence and lovely charm.”
Time to buy the popcorn so.
Women aged over 60 go to school for first time http://bit.ly/2kYgvzx
The best thing about the future is that it comes one day at a time
—14th US president Abraham Lincoln