After attending a friend’s rather disappointing funeral, Ethel (Gilly Daniels) and Margaret (Daphne Baston) realise they don’t want theirs to be the same. They reflect on the ceremony: “She would’ve absolutely hated it!” After a disheartening day, they are spurred into action.
The couple start making plans to celebrate in a way that honours their existence. Till Death Do Us A Party portrays the two women playfully bickering about funeral plans, embodying an optimistic demeanour from the very beginning. They embody a playful attitude to life in which they are able to discuss funeral plans without a jarring tonal shifts.
Balancing comedic and emotional moments, Till Death Do Us A Party captures these characters with a genuine sense of curiosity. Director Shirmaine Ong handles this narrative with capable hands. Honing in on a sincerely heartfelt expression of optimism, Ong’s film inhales positivity and exhales a reflective thoughtfulness. It seems especially unique that the focus is solely on two older women. A perspective that is refreshing as Ethel and Margaret are united by the same humorous, but hopeful, outlook on life.
Another especially prominent factor of Till Death Do Us A Party are the visuals that come to tell a story of themselves. Director of photography, James Coy, frames moments of the tender relationship beautifully. Making so many shots satisfying to the eye, Coy’s camerawork drapes this film in a professional ease through which these characters are brought to life. Shots transition between keeping a distance to let Ethel and Margaret’s personalities dominate the shot, to close-ups where their faces are able to express more than words could tell.
One scene, in particular, that remains memorable is a gorgeous frame where Ethel and Margaret sit at opposite ends of the bathtub, bubbles covering them both as they discuss and debate the intricacies of their own funeral plans. A rainbow sponge dangling from the tap between them is not a misplaced choice. The deliberate positioning is a nice touch as these characters slowly open up and their personalities flourish as the audience are let into the couple’s life. This scene in itself is a wonderful show of this crew’s talent.
Another crucial element that pulls the film together is the wonderful assortment of costumes from the matching tracksuits to the knitted hats that Carina Kuczynski has put together. Ethel and Margaret are constantly surrounded by wonderfully designed sets. An on-screen atmosphere is produced that helps further illustrate the comfortableness and welcoming atmosphere of this cosy film.
A beautiful story told in just seven minutes wraps itself up with a neat bow. The heartfelt narrative resonates with a tenderness towards these two women growing old together. Celebrating a love for each-other and for life itself.
by Emily Maskell
Originally from the flatlands of Norfolk, Emily now studies Film at De Montfort University. She’s often found cuddling her dog and wearing oversized jumpers with a big mug of tea. When Em’s not in the cinema, she spends too much time re-watching Bo Burnham’s stand-up comedy and subjecting her friends to her Call Me By Your Name ramblings. You can follow her on Twitter: @EmMaskell
Categories: Reviews, Women Film-makers
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