Golden Years review: a good-natured, if ramshackle, ‘grey pound’ crime caper

Bernard Hill and Virginia McKenna deliver lovely performances as bank-robbing pensioners, but the film just can’t shake off the TV sitcom vibe

One last job: Bernard Hill in Golden Years

Film Title: Golden Years

Director: John Miller

Starring: Bernard Hill, Virginia McKenna, Una Stubbs, Simon Callow, Phil Davis, Brad Moore, Alun Armstrong, Sue Johnston, Ellen Thomas, Mark Williams

Genre: Comedy

Running Time: 96 min

Thu, Apr 28, 2016, 17:05


“They may take our pensions but they can never take our lives” is the battle cry that underscores this rather gentle comedy.

They didn’t mean for things to turn out this way, but when respectable middle-class retirees Arthur and Martha Goode (Bernard Hill and Virginia McKenna) discover that their pension has evaporated, they stumble into a life of crime.

They’re not alone: many of their peers have fallen victim to dodgy financial dealings. Thus, Arthur and Martha undertake a series of bank robberies, so that they might take back what rightfully belongs to their friends. After all, well, you’ve read the title, right?

John Miller’s good-natured picture makes a noble stab at yoking real-world social problems to capering. Golden Years lacks the production values and A-list clout of such ‘grey pound’ genre competitors as The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel, but it is peopled by some lovely performers including Born Free’s Virginia McKenna, who came out of retirement to bring pathos to such old-school sitcom one-liners as: “I haven’t had a bit of tickle let alone any slap for longer than I care to think about.”

The plot does get increasingly ramshackle as it works its way toward One Last Score (are we quite sure there’s a super bank where all the nogoodnik bank managers keep their stashes?), but if you’ve been missing Only Fools and Horses Christmas specials, then you’ll likely have fun with this.