Released 10th August (Australia)
Seen 19th December
Directed & Written by Roger Goldby
Produced by Bright Pictures, Creativity Capital, Head Gear Films, Metrol Technology
Starring Joan Collins & Pauline Collins
In theory, the idea of a road trip movie starring Joan & Pauline Collins is one I can get behind. Joan Collins is an absolute icon, she is the master of the biting barb and her time on Dynasty showed that she could cut someone down with a look so when you match her up with Pauline Collins, who just seems to exude warmth and joy in so many ways, what we should get is a fun matchup comedy where Joan can grace us with her special talent for a withering look while Pauline puts up with it and eventually blows back, I’d be down for that. Sadly, The Time Of Their Lives doesn’t use it’s actors to their full potential.
Joan plays the role of Helen, a washed-up actress trying to get her career back by going to a funeral in France and making a connection there. On the way, she runs into Priscilla, played by Pauline, and ends up dragging Priscilla along for the adventure. That’s got a ton of potential there, these two actresses are incredible and have some great chemistry that bounces between them effortlessly. If Helen says something particularly cutting, Priscilla is able to shoot her a look that just works wonderfully. They know how to get a good punchline in and they know exactly how to make even the most ridiculous moments work but unfortunately, they were not given anything particularly special to work with.
The script in this one is all over the place, subplots pop up for no reason and are disposed of just as quickly. There’s an affair plotline that results in a death that just kind of goes away once the leads exit the venue. Joan’s character get’s a surprise daughter about halfway through the film that’s never even hinted at and again, once Joan leaves the funeral then the daughter is a non-factor, barely brought up again. The final scene is garbage, it implies that there’s going to be a big climactic moment that just kind of fizzles out because of some reasons. At the start, our characters are on a bus that they hijack to get to a ferry that’ll take them to France (Just go with it) and that bus is never mentioned again once they get to the ferry. These are big events and they’re brushed aside, ignored and dropped like they’ve been forgotten by the writer.
Visually this film is below generic. Some shots could’ve been really lovely but whoever was handling the camera doesn’t know how to frame a shot properly. See the shot above? That’s from a scene where I swear they cut off Joan Collins’ head for most of the time they’re in this room. Think about that for a moment, they cut the head off of their top-billed actress. You wouldn’t even do that to a featured extra, let alone your star. It’s a basic first year of film school mistake, one that even then should be corrected instantly by anyone looking at the monitor and going “Why can’t I see her head?”. It’s not that hard, tilt the camera a few degrees, pull back, lift the tripod up, ANYTHING. Shots from above look haphazardly framed, specifically one of a pool that could’ve been lovely but they ignored the edges of the frame and instantly lower the quality of the image. The shaky handheld footage is used for close-ups when a tripod would’ve been a more effective shot, it’s a little distracting during a dramatic scene to have the actors face moving around the frame because whoever was holding the Steadicam couldn’t keep the cam steady. These kinds of mistakes would make a film student fail, imagine how bad it is seeing alleged professionals do this?
The film also feels incredibly slow, to a point where I had to double check several times how long this film is. It’s an hour and a half, I swear the two and a half hour Star Wars film felt faster than this one did. Comedy is a hard genre to pull off but when the jokes feel like they take 20 minutes to finish because of how they’ve been edited together, it’s painful. It’s painful because these actresses make the most of what they’ve been given, they give us some pretty hilarious moments and create some interesting characters, but they have been given nothing to work with which is just depressing
What needs to happen is that a good director and a good writer need to make a buddy movie for these two, shoot the film properly and make a cohesive story for them to work with. They’re incredible, both actresses are absolutely incredible and forcing them to carry the entire film with no support isn’t OK, but that’s exactly what was done here and shame on everyone else for letting Joan and Pauline down like this.