Movie Review: Mrs. Palfrey at the Claremont (2005)

An amazing experience that evokes all the love of life well lived

PalfreyAnd for sure I’ll be checking out Brief Encounter, referenced there, to refresh my memory again of that classic love story. This quiet, small film is a gem one must not miss. In its short 108 minutes are contained the most deeply moving sensibilities available to the human spirit: loneliness, disappointments, irony, humor, friendship, love, and a kindness to strangers that blossoms into a many-splendored bouquet of mutual perception of the highest order. All from the simplest elements imaginable.

It’s about as mundane a plot as can be conceived: an elderly widow moves to London to live in a hotel (the Claremont), paying month to month, to be near her grandson—the mother, Mrs. Palfrey’s daughter, lives away in Scotland. The hope is that said grandson, at the very least, will be glad to know she’s arrived and perhaps pay her a visit or phone her from time to time. Also, she seeks more availability of community and people to know.

Mrs. Palfrey, exquisitely portrayed by Joan Plowright, soon gets to know her handful of fellow hotel residents and settles in to a routine not quite what she had hoped for. Until one day, while she’s out to mail a letter to her daughter and pick up a book for one of her new friends at the hotel, she suffers a minor accident. She’s tended to by a hopeful writer/ house-sitter, Lugo (Rupert Friend)—the young man reminds me of the Edward Albert character in Butterflies are Free. He’s the same age as her grandson… who hasn’t called in weeks; Lugo and Mrs. Palfrey become friends. I’ll let the reader work out some plot opportunities with that. Continue reading