Richard Loncraine’s silver-haired rom-com tells the story of a woman finding her feet, in more ways than one, after she discovers her husband has been having an affair with a family friend. Her life to date has been totally dedicated to her husband: cutting herself adrift she has nowhere else to turn than to her bohemian sister. She moves in with her, meets her friends, rediscovers her love of dancing and finds herself.
There are few surprises about the plot, but you could say that a husband having an affair was, is and always will be a mundane reality and the fact that it has happened before and will happen again doesn’t make it any easier for the betrayed person trying to find their way in a world they don’t recognise. Sandra (played sensitively by Imelda Staunton) is stuck up, buttoned-up and prudish, in total contrast to her sister Elizabeth or Biff (the greatly under-rated Celia Imrie) who smokes pot and has been known to swing both ways. Gradually, through dancing and with the help of Biff’s motley assortment of friends, Sandra does indeed find her feet again and learns to make decisions for herself.
Other female characters are played by an understated Joanna Lumley, who could steal the limelight but doesn’t, Josie Lawrence as the mistress, and a small but significant part played by Phoebe Nicholls whose snobbishness - and she does it so well - brings Sandra to her senses. Among the male characters, outstanding as ever is Timothy Spall, who initially seems just a happy-go-lucky kind of a man-on-a-boat until we delve further into his past. David Hayman is another of the happy troupe, and John Sessions is the faithless husband. The acting is faultless, the production sparkling and it is apt that the dancing is in aid of Age UK who get a good plug from this film.
It is a rom-com and there are laugh-out-loud moments, but there is also sadness: whenever you might be tempted to think the story has become too saccharine, the plot has swung too far from reality, or the word ‘trite’ swims briefly through your mind, you are brought up short. Yes, it is at times saccharine and unrealistic, but it is gutsy too.
Finding Your Feet won’t win any Oscars but if you need cheering up in these cold, dispiriting times, take yourself off to the Phoenix’s revamped cinema and have a good laugh and a good cry and come out feeling much better.