An extremely good audience turn-out, with ghost row A being in place for the extra numbers. This was our first film in our subtitle experiment. Audience response seemed very positive, with some people coming because the subtitling would support their difficulties with hearing.
Allelujah was a surprise, with its sudden dark plot twist at the end. We honestly hadn’t expected that. We discussed real-life shocking hospital incidents that may have inspired Alan Bennett’s ideas. Perhaps an analogy was being made with the nurse’s behaviour and the plans to shut down a vibrant and loved hospital. Perhaps.
For some of us, the film felt “a bit of a mess” despite its colourful array of much-loved thespians playing the geriatric patients. We didn’t really get to know enough about their back history. The experienced black actor, Jeffery Kissoon, had hardly anything to do. Although it was billed as a humorous film, some of us found it depressing in its themes.
Russell Tovey plays Colin, a consultant to the Health Secretary. His father, played by David Bradley, is a ‘Beth’ patient. He changes his opinion on shutting down the hospital and becomes a big advocate for it in a meeting. This volte-face didn’t really ring true for us, but like several other elements of the film, probably would work better in theatre. The little Bennett jokes, like the ‘Dusty Springfield Ward’ probably would also have gone down better on stage. There wasn’t even a titter in Rusthall.
We very much liked Dr Valentine, played by Bally Gill. Having a respected central Indian character, who was so proud of his family roots, showed progress in representing diversity.
The final Covid scenes, when the doctor ‘broke the fourth wall’ with a powerful soliloquy about the importance of the National Health Service, reminded us of the bravery and dedication of NHS workers during the pandemic. This was also shown by the deep marks on his face left by his PPE.