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Mrs Palfrey at the Claremont (2005)

Joan Plowright , Rupert Friend , Dan Ireland  |  Unrated |  DVD
4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (174 customer reviews)

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Product Details

  • Actors: Joan Plowright, Rupert Friend, Zoe Tapper, Anna Massey, Robert Lang
  • Directors: Dan Ireland
  • Format: Multiple Formats, Color, Dolby, NTSC, Widescreen
  • Language: English
  • Region: Region 1 (U.S. and Canada only. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Rated: Unrated
  • Studio: Terra Entertainment
  • DVD Release Date: January 12, 2010
  • Run Time: 108 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (174 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B002TZS58I
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #15,674 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)
  • Learn more about "Mrs Palfrey at the Claremont" on IMDb

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Editorial Reviews

Product Description

Mrs. Palfrey, recently widowed after a long happy marriage, moves into a London residential hotel more lively and elegant on line than in fact. She determines to make the best of it among an odd assortment of people, and she particularly hopes her grandson, a London resident, will visit. When she slips on a walk and is aided by a penniless young writer, she invites him to dine at the Claremont and plays along when her dining mates assume he's her grandson. A friendship develops giving her a companion with whom she can talk about memories and poetry and giving him ideas and support for his writing. But what of her actual family? How it plays out is the movie's story.


BY ROGER EBERT You may think there is no hotel in London like the Claremont, where Mrs. Palfrey becomes a lodger. No hotel where respectable gentlefolk can live by the month and have their breakfasts and dinners served to them in a dining room where good manners prevail. No hotel where the bellman is an aged ruin who nevertheless barks commands at the desk clerk. No hotel where the elevator is a brass cage that rises and falls majestically and discharges its passengers from behind ornate sliding doors. But here and there such relics survive. A very few of my readers will have stayed at the Eyrie Mansion on Jermyn Street when it was run by Henry and Doddy Togna, and they will nod in recognition, although the mansion, to be sure, had no dining room. They will remember Bob the hall porter, who drove Henry crazy by getting drunk every eighth day ("If Bob got drunk every seventh day, on a regular schedule like, we could plan for it"). Mrs. Palfrey (Joan Plowright) books into the Claremont almost blindly. She is in flight from life with her grown daughter in Scotland, and wants to be independent. She is a stoic. Shown her room (twin beds of different heights, a desk, a mirror, a straight chair and an arm chair), she says, "Oh, dear!" Learning from the aged ruin that the bathroom is down the hall and the early bird gets the hot water, she cannot even manage an "oh, dear!" In the dining room, she meets the regulars, particularly the brisk Mrs. Arbuthnot (Anna Massey), who tells the others to shut up when they require such coaching. There is also dear Mr. Osborne (Robert Lang), who asks her to a "do" at the Mason's Hall. Mrs. Palfrey hopes to spend time with her grandson Desmond, who works in the City, but he is an ingrate who never returns her calls. Then one day, while returning from the branch library with a copy of Lady Chatterley's Lover for Mrs. Arbuthnot, she stumbles on the sidewalk and is rescued by a nice young man named Ludovic (Rupert Friend). He invites her into the borrowed basement flat when he lives, serves her tea, rubs disinfectant on her bruise and explains he is a writer who supports himself as a street musician. Ludovic is too good to be true, really. Too kind, too gentle, too patient with a lady 60 years his senior. But "Mrs. Palfrey at the Claremont" is the kind of movie where nice people turn up, and soon Ludovic is doing Mrs. Palfrey a favor. She is embarrassed that everyone in the dining room wonders why her grandson has never appeared at dinner, and so she asks Ludovic to pretend to be Desmond, and he agrees. Just as teenagers enjoy escapist movies, so do the elderly. They simply prefer a gentler pace. What is touching about "Mrs. Palfrey" is that she is allowed to be elderly, and not turned into a hip-hop granny. This movie is based on a novel by Elizabeth Taylor (the novelist, not the actress), and a screenplay by Ruth Sacks, herself in her 80s. Incredibly, it represents the biggest screen role that the great Joan Plowright (herself 77) has ever had, and it's little surprise she has won the AARP award as actress of the year. Among the regulars in the Claremont dining room, there is that minute scrutiny inmates of such establishments always carry out, because of boredom, jealousy, or simple curiosity. All I really miss are complaints about the food. I recall my aunt Mary O'Neill sadly surveying her dinner at a retirement home and complaining: "How am I expected to eat this, Rog? Sliced chicken, mashed potatoes and cauliflower. It's all white, honey! It needs carrots." "Mrs. Palfrey at the Claremont" has a parabola that is not startling. Mrs. Palfrey will undergo some disappointments and surprises, and Ludovic will learn a life lesson or two, and we accept all that because it comes with the territory. The movie is a delight, in way --ROGER EBERT May 5-2006

The tale of an unlikely friendship between an elderly widow and a young writer, "Mrs. Palfrey at the Claremont" is an endearing, deceptively simple story. Like helmer Dan Ireland's previous (and very different) films, "Mrs. Palfrey" excels at presenting a relationship unfurling. Pic's debt to "Harold and Maude" is clear -- one character, eyeing the friendship, even mentions that classic comedy by name -- but this is a far gentler film, a low-key drama with comedic undertones that will appeal to older auds, arthouse patrons, and Joan Plowright fans. When Mrs. Palfrey (Plowright) arrives at London's Claremont Hotel (sporting, in a delicious homage, Celia Johnson's hat from "Brief Encounter"), she announces under her breath, "I had expected something quite different." In fact, her stay at the senior-oriented residence hotel is nothing like she anticipated. Having relocated from Scotland to be near her 26-year-old grandson Desmond (Lorcan O'Toole), Mrs. Palfrey soon faces a host of questions from well-meaning but nosy fellow residents. Where is Desmond, wonders Mrs. Arbuthnot (Anna Massey), among others, and when will he be coming to visit? But Desmond fails to return Mrs. Palfrey's many calls. Just as she is about to retreat into loneliness, she stumbles and falls outside the flat of aspiring scribe Ludovic "Ludo" Meyer (Rupert Friend). Meyer treats her wounds, and a friendship begins. In their ensuing conversations, it's clear that each fills a void for the other, and that these two lonely souls have much more in common that meets the eye. Ludo even agrees to pass himself off as Mrs. Palfrey's grandson during a visit to the Claremont. Some situational comedy follows, especially when the real Desmond finally shows up and Mrs. Palfrey tries to pass him off as her accountant. But pic's best moments are those in which the friendship of Mrs. Palfrey and Ludo grows into a deep bond. One scene in particular, in which Ludo serenades her with an impromptu version of "For All We Know," is beautifully directed. Mrs. Palfrey inadvertently plays matchmaker for Ludo when she recommends her favorite film, "Brief Encounter," to him, and, at the video store, Ludo collides with another customer, Gwendolyn (Zoe Tapper of "Stage Beauty"), who becomes his girlfriend. Plowright is cast here in one of her best roles in years. So often relegated to dotty supporting perfs, she carries this pic squarely on her shoulders as the proud, private Mrs. Palfrey. And, she's surprisingly well-matched by Friend as the kindly young writer. Friend joins a list of young actors shepherded by Ireland, including Renee Zellweger, Thomas Jane and Emmy Rossum; with his strapping looks and ample talent, Friend can expect bigger roles ahead. Final act is unexpectedly dark and poignant, but also offers hope and misty optimism. The entire film has a retro look and feel that is especially evident in its costumes and intimate settings. Pic also features also a rich, evocative score by Steven Barton. --Variety

It would be easy to overpraise a film like Mrs. Palfrey at the Claremont. There's a wealth of sentimental, sad scenes, enacted by old pros like Plowright and Massey and Lang, that are ruthlessly calculated to tug at the heartstrings, and which suggest a better film in your memory and in your heart than what was actually on the screen. So let's not do that; let's give the film the proper respect it deserves. Mrs. Palfrey at the Claremont is a pleasant, poignant, though familiar fable, simply presented, and touchingly acted. No more; no less. Final Thoughts: Mrs. Palfrey at the Claremont is a shameless little sentimental piece that boasts a wonderful, tender performance by Joan Plowright. She lets us see a character we never see on the movie screens anymore: a fully functioning, fully emotional, vibrant, caring, intelligent older person in a lead role. And for that, Mrs. Palfrey at the Claremont gets my recommendation. If the movie blows the chance to be something more than just an at times affecting escapist fantasy, well, so what? It still lets us see a total pro in action, giving one of the best performances of her career. I recommend Mrs. Palfrey at the Claremont.

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
148 of 153 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A treasure! February 11, 2007
After the film came to an end (I'd rented it on DVD), a friend who had enjoyed it with us said, "Where did you hear about this movie?" And I wasn't quite sure where I'd first seen mention of the film until, in watching an extra on the DVD, Joan Plowright's acceptance speech as winner of a best actress award from AARP, I realized it had been in a recent AARP magazine I'd received. If we lived in a just world, then Joan Plowright's performance as Mrs. Palfrey would have received an Academy Award nomination last year. When one considers what passes for entertainment nowadays, this film can stand head and shoulders above so many. No sense giving you a rundown on the story itself; suffice it to say that, if you've any curiosity as to what ageing will be like, if you've any curiosity as to how those moving into their later senior years deal with the good and bad of growing older, this movie will enlighten you. And this chance possibility of paths crossing, lives changed, the opportunity to grow from a chance encounter and a friendship formed are all beautifully explored in this wonderful little film. Rupert Friend delightfully holds his own as he and Ms Plowright form what might seem like an unlikely but beautiful friendship. There is nary a false move in his performance nor hers. I'm buying a DVD copy of my own to share with my many senior friends who, I'm sure, have yet to enjoy this story.
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62 of 63 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars one of this years best January 28, 2007
Joan Plowright gives one of her best performances in this deeply effecting little film.. I love all of the characters staying in the hotel..every detail is surprisingly well done.. This is no Harold and Maude tale as others have noted but rather a story of two people who seem to understand each other in a way that even their closest relations do not.. It is charming right to the end - even if somewhat predictable..

Joan Plowright has such a lovely presence and never has to force her acting at all - she is so natural and believable.. I am sure this movie will have a lasting power..
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69 of 71 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Age is but a state of mind! February 11, 2007
One chance meeting, two changed lives. I suggest before you watch the DVD you listen to the narrative of the producer and director which is a value add on the DVD. It will give you great4er insight into this delightful film that seems timeless. An elegant wido Joan Plowright plays Mrs. Paltrey who moves into a residence hotel called the Claremont in London. Instead of it being a cosmopolitan boutique hotel, it turns out to be one of those forgettable places with the bath down the hall. A chance meeting with a dashing young writer Rubert Friend changes both of their lives. They were meant to meet. NO this is not a may/december love story but it is a romance of a certain kind. A nice valentine to any age who doesn't know that love comes in many places and ways in our lives. And it's important to embrace it and accept it and be grateful for what crosses our path. Family of choice is sometimes so much more meaningful than family of chance (the one you're born into). This was an indy film made for $1 million on location in London -- amazing quality and a charming script. Bravo.
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28 of 28 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Love: Meeting the Needs of the Aged and the Youthful December 24, 2006
Format:DVD|Verified Purchase
MRS. PALFREY AT THE CLAREMONT is an adaptation by Ruth Sacks of the book by British novelist Elizabeth Taylor (1912 - 1975) and directed with consummate skill by Dan Ireland. It is a showcase for the extraordinary talents of Dame Joan Plowright who owns the title role

Mrs. Palfrey (Plowright) is recently widowed and decides to move to a small hotel in London to spend her last years as a lady of independence. The Claremont is a crumbling old edifice that serves as a retirement home for a small but fascinating group of tenants: the fastidious but cranky Mrs. Arbuthnot (Anna Massey), a would-be suitor for Mrs. Palfrey's hand Mr. Osborne (Robert Lang), Mrs. Post (Marcia Warren), the nosy matchmaker Mrs. Burton (Georgina Hale), and a strange old couple, the De Salises (Millicent Martin and Michael Culkin). Once settled into her barely navigable room, Mrs. Palfrey meets her fellow 'inmates' at dinner, and announces that she has a grandson who will be calling on her at times. Yet despite multiple attempts her grandson Desmond (Lorcan O'Toole) doesn't respond and Mrs. Palfrey realizes she has entered a world of loneliness.

Out on an errand she falls and is befriended by a handsome young busker/writer Ludovic Meyer (Rupert Friend) who nurses her leg wound, makes her tea, and escorts her home. Ludo is a loner and lonely and when Mrs. Palfrey offers him dinner at the hotel he gladly accepts. But at the hotel the guests presume that Mrs. Palfrey's guest will be her grandson Desmond: Mrs. Palfrey hastily informs Ludo that she has erred and Ludo agrees to pose as her grandson. The guests at the hotel are charmed by Ludo, and Mrs.
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16 of 16 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars An Imaginary Home for a While June 15, 2007
I enjoyed spending time with Mrs. Palfrey, the widowed grandmother portrayed by Joan Plowright. I enjoyed the handsome Rupert Friend's perfect portrayal of the kind, young stranger who befriends his new neighbor. I enjoyed the lovely Claremont hotel. I enjoyed both the residents and employees of the hotel. I enjoyed the neighborhood, which appeared to be a natural setting. I enjoyed the story of a grandmother who lives alone, has difficulty connecting with her family, but finds reason and goodness in others. I was very comfortable in that story, in that setting, with those people. I could have stayed longer, but the story ended just as I got settled in. It ended quickly and quietly, before I was prepared for it to end. In most movies I can see the end coming. This one surprised me, maybe because I was so comfortable. I was very affected by the quietness of this film. Several very important events occurred, but all happened quietly. I miss them now.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
4.0 out of 5 stars Four Stars
Well worth watching!
Published 9 days ago by Donna
5.0 out of 5 stars This is a wonderful movie. I discovered Rupert Friend in this movie
This is a wonderful movie. I discovered Rupert Friend in this movie. I bought this movie before and the dvd was defective so I had to buy another one. Read more
Published 16 days ago by Donna L. Fay
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
Truly great movie! Wonderful!
Published 29 days ago by C.A.
2.0 out of 5 stars Too much sugar for my taste
Elizabeth Taylor's (not that Elizabeth Taylor) novel, which is good but deeply depressing, is set during the early '60's. Read more
Published 1 month ago by addison de witt
4.0 out of 5 stars Loved this. couldn't have picked a better cast
Loved this. couldn't have picked a better cast.
Published 1 month ago by Cynthia Tyler
5.0 out of 5 stars I love it.
This is one of the few movies that I play over and over. I love it.
Published 1 month ago by Hommey Kanter
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
Very special movie!
Published 1 month ago by junedevries
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
This is a very human story, very much worth the experience.
Published 1 month ago by Barbara D.
4.0 out of 5 stars the acting very good, and a very poignant film
This is a unique film. It was very well done, the acting very good, and a very poignant film. It was a story of a wonderful relationship between a young man and an older woman... Read more
Published 1 month ago by Jane C
5.0 out of 5 stars One of my all time favorite movies. A must see for anyone who has ...
One of my all time favorite movies. A must see for anyone who has fond memories of an elderly person in their life.
Published 2 months ago by DragonLady
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Topic From this Discussion
If You Loved Mrs. Palfrey....
Yes, I second J. Deeter's recommendation. Innocence is beautiful and a lovely testament to love.
Feb 26, 2007 by D. Recio, SJ |  See all 4 posts
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