The Chaperone falls into a special category: movies my mother would like. It's in the same class as almost anything with a Dame (especially Judi Dench or Maggie Smith), comedies, romantic or otherwise, that feature actresses like Diane Keaton, and many of the late lamented Merchant Ivory films.
The older demographic isn't always extensively catered to by studios and cinemas out for the blockbuster buck. However, especially in certain locations, it's worth the effort: if you show it, they will usually come.
When I saw The Chaperone at Event Cinemas Manuka - which frequently screens such films - I was the youngest person in the cinema by a long way.
Although it's received mixed reviews, I quite enjoyed the film. It was adapted from a 2012 novel by Laura Moriarty and although one of the key characters really existed, it is presumably so full of invention (from Moriarty and screenwriter Julian Fellowes) that the standard "all persons fictitious" disclaimer runs without qualification.
That real person was silent screen star Louise Brooks, played by Haley Lu Richardson. But this isn't a movie star biography - it's more in the line of a movie like Amadeus, in which the story of a famous historical figure (Mozart) is secondary to that of a lesser-known, even made-up person.
Rather than simply complain about the lack of roles for older women, Elizabeth McGovern worked to bring The Chaperone to the screen (she's credited as producer).
Although it's received mixed reviews, I quite enjoyed the film.
She's a fine actress whose career started with a supporting role in the Oscar-winning Ordinary People and has continued on stage and screens large and small including Fellowes' Downton Abbey. Another well-respected veteran, Blythe Danner, has a small but crucial role in The Chaperone.
McGovern plays Norma, a Wichita, Kansas woman in the 1920s whose marriage is troubled. When the opportunity arises to act as chaperone for the young Brooks, who's travelling to New York City to study dance, she seizes it.
Not only does it provide respite from her domestic problems, but she has another reason: she was adopted as an infant from a "Home for Friendless Girls" and wants to find out who her birth mother was.
Norma takes her role seriously and Louise chafes at the restrictions placed on her but the relationship between the two develops into something like respect and each makes her own discoveries.
Some people have complained that Brooks' story was more interesting and should have been the focus although Norma's has more variety, even if it is fictional.
Brooks, when not with Norma, is mostly at dance school or flirting with young men, and we see quite a bit of that.
Detailing her Hollywood and European experiences and their aftermath would indeed be interesting, but would make another movie.
And it's not like there haven't been a lot of movies about the rise and fall of stars (the recent remake of A Star is Born is one example).
I liked this intimate drama with its focus on people and relationships and (sometimes life-changing) experiences. It's no masterpiece but it's a good, solid adult movie. I've recommended it to Mum.
Classics on the big screen
Speaking of movies that might appeal to mothers, Event Cinemas Manuka continues its series of classics with the following films on Mondays at 10.30am and 6.30pm (tickets $8/$7 for Cinebuzz members). eventcinemas.com.au.
May 6: 12 Angry Men (1957):
All the jurors in a murder trial vote immediately for conviction - except one (Henry Fonda), who wants to discuss the case before sending a young man to die.
Based on Reginald Rose's teleplay, this film was director Sidney Lumet's big-screen debut. Rose, Lumet and a superb cast make you forget that most of the movie is set in one room.
May 20: The Red Shoes (1948): This British film by the team of Michael Powell and Emeric Pressberger is one of their best, a vivid, almost dreamlike story of a young ballerina (Moira Shearer) torn between love and career.
Robert Helpmann choreographed and appears in the title ballet, inspired by the Hans Christian Andersen story. The film, in beautiful colour, won Oscars for its score and art direction.
June 3: Terms of Endearment (1983): Writer-director-producer James L. Brooks won Oscars in all three of those categories for his seriocomic adaptation of the Larry McMurtry novel about the turbulent lives of a mother (Shirley MacLaine, who won the best actress Oscar) and her daughter (Debra Winger). Jack Nicholson won the best supporting actor Oscar as the retired astronaut who lives next door.
June 17: Zulu (1964): This film premiered on the anniversary of the Battle of Rorke's Drift. The 1879 battle, which occurred during the Anglo-Zulu War, saw 150 British soldiers pitted against 4000 Zulu warriors. It made Michael Caine a star.
July 1: The Apartment (1960): Co-writer-producer-director Billy Wilder won triple Oscars for this excellent comedy-drama. A low-level office drone (Jack Lemmon) climbs the corporate ladder by lending his apartment to his superiors for their extra-marital affairs.
July 15: July Murder on the Orient Express (1974): Sidney Lumet directed this star-studded Agatha Christie adaptation in which detective Hercule Poirot (Albert Finney) is aboard the snowbound title train when a murder is committed.