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  M.   July 06, 2012

By Baz Bamigboye

Actress Gemma Arterton had to fight to get a key scene in a new film featuring her and Terence Stamp re-instated after it had been left on the cutting room floor.

She told me that the sequence gave important background about her character, Elizabeth, a teacher and choir mistress for senior citizens, in the movie Song For Marion.

Having now seen the picture, I can attest that every moment Gemma’s on screen is magical, so I can’t comprehend any key scene of hers getting the chop.

Vanessa Redgrave is also in the film, as the eponymous Marion, a member of the choir, called the OAPZ, who has a terminal illness. She’s as sunny as her husband Arthur (played by Stamp) is dour.

Arthur, understandably, is miserable because he fears losing his wife, and matters aren’t helped by the estrangement between him and the couple’s son, played by Christopher Eccleston.

One morning, Marion and Arthur are in bed when Elizabeth and her choir serenade them in the rain with You Are The Sunshine Of My Life. Marion’s delighted but Arthur’s grumpy mood sends them scampering away.

Paul Andrew Williams, who made the celebrated independent picture London To Brighton, invests his film with many such pleasurable cinematic moments. His credo here, embodied by Vanessa’s Marion, seems to be that life will get better if we embrace the moment, and each other.

Williams’s cinematographer, Carlos Catalan, captures the joy that Redgrave’s Marion projects with her eyes and that joy’s infectious, even though we know Marion’s dying.

Marion and Elizabeth rehearse a song, True Colours (a hit for Cyndi Lauper), that Marion will sing as a solo. As she performs you see her eyes searching for Arthur — then you watch how Gemma’s Elizabeth reacts, because she so wants Marion and Arthur to have this important moment.

I felt elated after seeing Song For Marion because it’s always exciting when actors give beautiful performances without over-egging it.

It’s also wonderful to just give yourself to a movie and slowly fall in love with it. I can tell you that this doesn’t happen often. It did, though, with Song For Marion and I want to sing out loud about it.

It’s due to open in January, but you can be sure it will feature in the various autumn film festivals.