'All Together' (unrated)
Jane Fonda shines in this ensemble comedy about a group of lifelong friends dealing with old age.
In All Together, five septuagenarians (including, most notably, Jane Fonda and Geraldine Chaplin) who have been lifelong friends make a group decision: Instead of the usual retirement-home route, they decide to move into the same house together, MTV Real World-style, and hire a young grad student (Daniel Bruhl), who wants to use them as research for a project, to help with everyday chores.
In their youth, they were rabble-rousers and rebels — in their old age, they retain their free-spirit personalities, but their frail bodies refuse to play along. That may sound awfully depressing, but writer-director Stephane Robelin’s frothy comedy is much more Golden Girls hijinks than On Golden Pond. The story is scored by serious dramatic undertones associated with aging — hidden illnesses, Alzheimer’s, impotence — but the movie opts to dwell on the positive and the comical, from a former playboy (Claude Rich) who can’t quite kill the ladies like he did in his youth, to a left-wing activist (Guy Bedos) who still wants to demonstrate and disturb the peace but is deemed too old by the cops to even get arrested.
The main attraction in All Together is Fonda, who is 74 but looks at least 10 years younger, in her first French-speaking role in 40 years (her last was Jean-Luc Godard’s Tout va bien in 1972). She plays a retired university professor who keeps an alarming medical diagnosis secret from her husband (Pierre Richard), who still loves her all these years later but is gradually going senile.
Fonda, who has recently acted in English-language productions to much lesser effect (Peace Love and Misunderstanding, HBO’s The Newsroom), is the luminous center of the movie, a former radical naturally mellowed by age and circumstance. All Together throws in Viagra gags, naughty jokes and moments of absurd humor — the filmmakers clearly wanted the movie to appeal to all ages — but the melancholic streak coursing beneath the story is what works best: facing the end of the road with dignity and courage, and knowing that life is worth living, fully and noisily, to the natural end.
Cast: Guy Bedos, Daniel Bruhl, Geraldine Chaplin, Jane Fonda, Claude Rich, Pierre Richard.
Writer-director: Stephane Robelin.
Producers: Christophe Bruncher, Cedric de Saint-Jouan, Philippe Gompel.
A Kino Lorber/Tribeca release. Running time: 96 minutes. In French and German with English subtitles. Vulgar language, brief nudity, adult themes. In Miami-Dade only: Tower, O Cinema Miami Shores.