Opening 28 Nov 2019
Beware those who search for partners on the internet. You might end up with a Brian or an Estelle. The year is 2009 and the two oldies Brian and Estelle decide to extend their computer friendship by taking the plunge and meeting for dinner. As this meals begins Brian (Ian McKellan) tells Estelle that he can’t bear to tell a lie and admits that his real name is Roy. Estelle (Helen Mirren) in turn admits that her real name is Betty. The pair gets on like a house on fire and after that first dinner Roy wonders if Betty will phone to arrange a second meeting. Of course she does and so the story begins to unfold.
These two superb actors are supported by a wonderful cast which includes Jim Carter (you’ll recognise him as the butler from Downton Abbey) as Roy’s business partner and Russell Tovey as Betty’s grandson. He, as any caring grandson would, wonders what his gran is getting herself into. There are tantalising glimpses of an upscale London as the well-heeled couple develop their friendship, so Betty’s bland bungalow, which is the perfect setting for her wholesome character, is a huge disappointment for man-about-town Roy. Still, he’s prepared to put up with it in his pursuit of Betty.
Director Bill Condon has made a stylish movie which drags a little at first but soon gets into its stride. Almost from the beginning we smell a rat, as we are intended to, but the storyline keeps us guessing until the end. This is a lighthearted movie and enjoyable which showcases some of Britain’s best loved actors. (Jenny Mather)