He's virtually unknown in the U.S, but Paul Andrew Williams has been one of the rising stars of the British film industry for a few years now. His 2006 debut, the gritty, excellent drama "London To Brighton," won him a BAFTA nomination and several newcomer awards (the film received a very brief U.S. release in 2008), and he seemed like one of the brightest talents around. He took a slight misstep with his next two projects, the horror films "The Cottage" and "Cherry Tree Lane," but he looks to be getting firmly back on track with his fourth film, which starts filming ten days from now, and has just landed an impressive cast.
For some time Williams has been developing a new project, "Song For Marion," through his Steel Mill Pictures, with a script that made last year's Brit List. Now, Baz Bamigboye reports that Terence Stamp, Vanessa Redgrave, Gemma Arterton, Christopher Ecclestone and Anne Reid ("The Mother," "Hot Fuzz") will all take roles in the film. Like the 2007 hit documentary "Young @ Heart," the film centers around a choir of elderly people who cover contemporary pop songs.
Redgrave will play a cancer-stricken woman, the titular Marion, whose husband Arthur (Stamp), disapproves of her membership of the choir, led by Elizabeth (Arterton), a young music teacher, but finds himself warming up to it. Ecclestone will play James, their son, who has a difficult relationship with his father, while it looks like Reid will play Brenda, another member of the choir.
Producer Ken Marshall promises that the film will feature songs by Motorhead, Billy Joel, Stevie Wonder and Cyndi Lauper (the script also includes versions of songs by The Kinks, Oasis, Take That, Madonna and Salt & Pepa, although rights issues may have put a hold on some of these), and says that "Both Vanessa and Terence can sing, and each has a big solo number."
We've had a look at a draft of the script, and considering that and the top-notch cast, if we were Harvey Weinstein we'd be snapping up the rights immediately; undoubtedly reminiscent of films like "Brassed Off," "The Full Monty" and "Calendar Girls," with a little Mike Leigh thrown in, it's rather lovely, and in places very funny, but Williams also brings emotion that's perhaps more raw than similar films to the table. Mark our words, given the giant success of the choir-based "Glee," it's got all the makings of a major sleeper hit, and Stamp has the kind of role that stinks of Oscar. Filming starts on July 18th in northeast England, so we'll likely see this in the fall of 2012.