2 out of 5 stars
Two things that might be worthwhile mentioning before the review are that the National Health Service (NHS) is always a point of contention since it impacts every person from birth until death. The second point is that the name Alan Bennett outside of England may need to be introduced as one of his home country's most celebrated playwrights and actors. These fun facts will help viewers understand the premise and purpose of the recent cinematic release of Allelujah, an adapted play from Bennett.
His story takes us to a small Yorkshire hospital nicknamed The Beth that is under threat of being closed due to governmental budget cuts. Yet, the patients and staff do all they can to save the facility from closure since it is a mainstay of the community. As they prepare to celebrate one of the hospital's longest-serving nurses, Sister Gilpin (Jennifer Saunders) pushes aside the notoriety and strives to keep the ward orderly. She runs a tight ship that looks after elderly patients along with a caring staff, and Doctor Valentine (Bally Gill).
The campaign to save The Beth includes bringing in a local video crew who hope to produce a video that will showcase the value of the medical facility. As the unit does their best to interview everyone interested in keeping the ward open, Colin Colman (Russell Tovey) visits his father, one of the patients. He is also on the staff of the National Health Minister and has been assigned the task of developing the report that will support the hospital’s closure. Each person adds a subtle component to this mixture of emotion and medical care, leading to an unexpected conclusion.
Without spoiling the ending, readers need to be reminded of the bits of information given at the beginning of the review. These help to understand how Bennett chooses to finish a story set up to be a heartwarming tale of the ageing process and the value of good medical care. Since the film boasts a combination of excellent veteran actors and fresh talent that complement this measured and surprising political statement. David Bradley, Derek Jacobi, and Judi Dench are underutilised within the screenplay. Still, they support the writer more than showcasing their talent.
Allelujah attempts to be clever, while the messaging becomes confusing and unnecessarily heavy-handed in the final moments. This movie could have been an endearing and entertaining choice if it had faded out with ten minutes left. Then a series of events occur that muddle the whole thing into a frustrating and unappealing mess that fails to support the rest of the screenplay.
REEL DIALOGUE: Is life merely waiting to die?
One of the underlying themes of Allelujah is trying to understand old age. After living through the most critical events in life, one must consider what to do with the later years. We can know from the Bible that every day on this earth is a gift. So, what will you do with the life you have been given? Ponder the ‘what ifs’ of life or seek after the ‘what to do’ with the life we have been given.
Grey hair is a crown of glory; it is gained in a righteous life. Proverbs 16:31
This passage should motivate all of us with grey hair to finish well and show how a righteous life can add value to society.
Life is intended to be lived by…. Well…. living. Now get out there and live it.
The word becomes film
Russ Matthews' new book is a modern-day parable that introduces a radically easy way of talking about God’s story
If you order the book today you will also receive a complementary study guide that is only available with the purchase of the book (Print or ebook)