Allelujah has a vital message, but the film’s plot gets tangled
New British comedy-drama Allelujah is based on the 2018 play by Alan Bennett. Its focus on health care is interesting, given the amount that has changed since it debuted on stage. However, the subject is still pertinent.
The film centres around the geriatric unit of a Yorkshire hospital. Overseen by a caring doctor (Bally Gill) and stern but sincere head nurse Sister Gilpin (Jennifer Saunders), they oversee the trials and tribulations of their aging patients with good humour. Hope and enthusiasm grows as a film crew arrives to document a ceremony to celebrate Sister Gilpin’s years of service. However, with the unit facing closure, the filming becomes the last hope for the families and the ones they care for to save the hospital.
There’s a terrific message at the heart of the film about the role of the NHS as our first and last lines of care. In a Post-Covid world, that resonates more than ever. Sadly, the plot becomes so tangled that this tribute isn’t as considered as it might be. The light-hearted laughs are at odds with some of the more sombre moments, as jokes about the indignity of some elderly care can seem slightly callous.
The variety of subplots also collide, meaning some big names don’t quite get the time they should. Dame Judi Dench, Sir Derek Jakobi, and David Bradley all bring their considerable presence to the screen as patients, but none get the time to shine. Of them all, perhaps Bradley has the most to do as the father of executive (Russell Tovey) looking to close the unit down. Saunders is terrific as Sister Gilpin, the embodiment of the Keep Calm and Carry On attitude that helps so many get through their darkest times.
Noble intentions don’t always make for great entertainment, and Allelujah seems to get lost in the many things it is trying to say. Considering there has never been a better time to focus on why our health service is so important, this feels like a missed opportunity.
Allelujah is in selected cinemas now
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