The Movie Waffler New Release Review - A STITCH IN TIME | The Movie Waffler

New Release Review - A STITCH IN TIME

A Stitch in Time review
An elderly seamstress befriends a young fashion designer.

Review by Benjamin Poole

Directed by: Sasha Hadden

Starring: Maggie Blinco, Hoa Xuande, Glenn Shorrock, Belinda Giblin, John Gregg

A Stitch in Time poster

At some point, and sooner than you think, the lifestyle that you lead is going to run out, and the things which you've always liked doing you won't be able to do anymore, and the horizons of your existence which you once took for granted as unreachably infinite are going to shrink in and close as quickly as night falls in winter and you will be old. I am just being honest with you because someone needs to be. After all, you're probably in denial about the whole thing. It will start, probably, by feeling a bit out of place when you go to a nightclub. Then you will look suddenly ridiculous when you try on certain clothes. Increasingly, it will seem as if there is no place for you in a world where hope and opportunity and status is only afforded to the young and the beautiful. Don't get angry about it! That's the worst response you could offer: a bad look. It's all about magnanimous acceptance now, that's the aim. I mean, take a look at belligerent Duncan (a brilliant Glenn Shorrock) in writer/director Sasha Hadden's A Stich in Time, a washed-up bar act coughing his way through the standards for an audience so dwindling that he's let go by the slick bar manager - "we're just not getting the numbers anymore." Tell me about it.

A Stitch in Time review

Duncan does have one constant spectator though, his partner Liebe (a wonderful Maggie Blinco), who watches night in night out. Thanks she gets though: Slick complains she makes the place "look like a retirement village" and Liebe then gets it in the ear from gammony Duncan, too, a man furious at his diminished place in the world and looking for someone to blame. Stoic, kind and accepting of her lot, the broken Liebe fits the bill. "I've seen better days" she happily laments when nosing around a market stall exhibiting bespoke female fashion (the dresses here and the ones which Liebe will go on to craft as part of her inevitable actualisation are irl made by wow). Time turns fortuitously, though, as this was the same market stall where Liebe once sold her own homemade dresses way back when. The young and insanely handsome seller Hamish (Hoa Xuande) tells her that she's a class act, and when she does nervously try on a rather fetching frock he intones that Liebe is not here for the dress, the "dress is here for you" (nice one, Hamish! I'll remember that one).

As Duncan seeps further into self-pity and frustrated rage his circumstances are contrasted by Leibe's ensuing trajectory. In barely disguised desperation Duncan tries ringing around old bandmates, attempting to relive the relatively glory days. Having made something of themselves, the more salubrious ex-band mate Justin (John Gregg) and his wife Christina (Belinda Giblin) are a marked contrast to our central characters and Justin wants no part of Duncan's pipe dreams: "you should have moved on," he states, not unkindly. This lights Duncan's touch paper and he duly kicks off. Things get worse when Liebe keeps up correspondence with old pal Christina, which too is of anathema to Duncan: if Liebe has friends outside the relationship, where might that leave him, after all? (Intriguingly, when they want to hit hard, characters instinctively invoke youth as pejorative - "how old are you?", "she's playing you like a little girl" - in bitterly ironic acknowledgement of their station in life).

A Stitch in Time review

Inspired by the kindness of Hamish, the better quality of life displayed by Christina, and Duncan's ever more toxic bitterness, Liebe leaves her partner, and her rediscovered passion and skill for creating dresses acts as a metaphor for self-realisation. The film is cosy, and lovely, and as warmly predictable as most genre products are, but what A Stitch in Time also has is a hardness which saves it from blandly simple Sunday afternoon fare. This arrives mostly via Duncan and his foul mouth (swearing to my ears always sounds more poetically coarse in an Australian accent), and the inescapable nastiness of how he treats Liebe - it isn't the outright physical abuse of the recent Driving Madeleine, but a more drip drip diminishing daily devaluation which is scarily convincing (I did however laugh when Duncan, completely blinded by wrath, accuses Hamish of having an affair with Liebe - his main character complex unable to acknowledge a gay man).

A Stitch in Time review

Writer/director Hadden imbues A Stitch in Time with easy heart and makes the most of his uniformly excellent cast, but nonetheless anchors the feelgood with realistic and uncompromised themes of aging and perceived irrelevance. Most poignant then is the credible proposal that, no matter what stage you are at, stuff does and will happen, such is the very nature of existence. Outrageous fortune may be challenging, but also rewarding, if we just have the courage to reach for the opportunities which perhaps don't come as easily as they once did. After all, as A Stitch in Time's emotional ending reminds us, the eventual alternative to life is a cruel certainty...

A Stitch in Time is in UK cinemas from November 24th.

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