Apart from the obvious link of retirement, is it drawing too long a bow to see parallels between a fictionalised version of Shakespeare in that state back in his hometown in the 1600s, and the Palm Beach birthday celebrations of a retired Australian t-shirt mogul in this day and age?

Conflict resolution in old age – as directed by two ageing actors, made for a highly praised film which I saw and enjoyed last year.

Kenneth Branagh’s direction of and stellar role as Shakespeare in All is True, made for a highly praised film which I saw and enjoyed last year.

Palm Beach, on the other hand, got mixed reviews, despite starring a phalanx of excellent older antipodean actors, directed by but not featuring the actor/spouse of one of them, Rachel Ward. I therefore went with misgivings, but intent on fulfilling my self-imposed charter for reviewing creative works focusing on older people and how their lives are depicted.

And, as can happen, low expectations can result in being pleasantly surprised, which I was. Sure, it had the artifice of a long-simmering issue that came to a predictable boil, but in addition to that story arc there were several of the challenges and compromises that many of we older people do face.

And having them spelt out on screen by such familiar faces can be both thought-provoking and useful. This is especially the case when one is familiar – as I was – with various issues of ageing that have been raised by Rachel Ward in various contexts over recent years; so there was the feeling – for me – throughout the movie, that this was one of the ways in which she was having her cast work through them.

As well as all of that, however, there was – ultimately – another dimension to that film. And thinking about that, I suddenly realised that it was something that it had in common with All is True, despite it being a different movie on so many levels.

And what these two films shared was a discovery that is extremely comforting: that – rather than being a divisive force if brought to the surface – long-held differences, and misunderstandings between people close to each other but harbouring unspoken tensions can be, even in older age, worked through, resolved, and help to bring about a more honest and closer connection going forward.

Coming, as both of these fictions did, from older people who are likely to be drawing on long-lived lives and experiences, that message can only be encouraging.

Anne Ring ©2019

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