One could argue that with this fictional account (based, per the opening titles, “on too many true stories”) of an elderly couple who are forcibly separated from each other by meddling do-gooders is an example of that very thinly populated genre, the sentimental black comedy. Populated by broadly drawn characters whose personalities are subservient to their function to the plot, the whole kit and kaboodle emits a kind of rustic, chortling didacticism, like a cinematic Hogarth series set in the era of NHS bureaucracy and contemporary social work. That’s not necessarily a bad thing, although some viewers might harbour suspicions that, in terms of political sympathies, the film-makers’ intended audience may be less inclined to read the Guardian than the Daily Mail.
Philip (perpetual supporting actor Peter Bowles) and Rosemary Twain (national treasure-candidate Sylvia Syms), a pair of chirpy, Cockney-accented suburbanites, have been married for 60 years. In that time, they’ve weathered assorted misfortunes, including losing one of their children to childhood illness and seeing their only remaining child, Neville (Steve Steen), go off the rails and end up in jail. But they’ve stuck it out and have just celebrated their anniversary when Rosemary slips and breaks a leg and has to go into hospital.
Social workers assigned to her case deem Philip best off in a nursing home while Rosemary is in hospital recovering, but it emerges they have other motives and Philip doesn’t read the fine print on the contracts the eerily chirpy administrator (Carla Mendonca) has him sign. A decades old charge against Philip results in his being forced to stay at least 50 yards away from his wife, even though they long to be together again.