Director: Richard Eyre
Writers: Heidi Thomas and Alan Bennett
Starring: Jennifer Saunders, Judi Dench, Russell Tovey, David Bradley, Derek Jacobi, Bally Gill, Gerard Horan, Jessica Baglow, and Eileen Davies
Allelujah is based on Alan Bennett’s 2018 play of the same name. It follows Bethlehem hospital in Yorkshire as it faces being closed down as a cost cutting measure by the government. To try and save the beloved hospital volunteers start fundraising and a local documentary crew interview the patients and staff to show how important the hospital is to the local community.
The characters are simply brilliant, and you truly get the feeling that you’re seeing a snapshot of their lives. They’re all wonderfully written and brilliantly brought to life by a stellar cast. There are so many great actors in the film and everyone is on top form, giving memorable performances that will stick with you long after the film is over. It’s sentimental, and the likable characters instantly have you invested. The film has a sense of humour as well that shines throughout.
The driving force of the film is the social commentary. It’s about greed and how the healthcare system in the UK and how it’s slowly being destroyed by its own government. The patients at the Beth are forgotten by society, left waiting for visitors that never come. It’s a little overdone and melodramatic at points, such as Colin (Russell Tovey), who initially wants to close the place down, changing his viewpoint after visiting the ward for a few days, but it still hits home and is very moving.
Hidden within the sentimental film is a much darker story. While there’s small hints throughout, the big reveal is tacked on to the end of the film and takes it in a completely different direction. Without spoiling anything, it’s definitely shocking but it is also a little unnecessary. It feels like it was put there just to give the story some action and give it more structure, that just wasn’t needed. The characters are more than enough.
Allelujah is a heartfelt story about people coming to the end of their lives. It’s sentimental, thought provoking, and very moving.
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