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  • Writer's pictureAlex First

Allelujah (M) - 99 minutes

I can’t think of too many films I have detested more than Allelujah.

The British drama, written by Heidi Thomas and directed by Richard Eyre, is based on Alan Bennett’s 2018 play of the same name.

It is about a small geriatric hospital (The Bethlehem) in West Yorkshire that is threatened with closure due National Health Service funding cuts.

The most loyal of staff is a doctor called Valentine (Bally Gill), for whom nothing to do with patient care is ever too much.

The head nurse, Sister Alma Gilpin (Jennifer Saunders), is about to be honoured for her services to the Beth.

A film crew is invited to the hospital to document a volunteer-led effort to save the institution.

That includes interviewing the Chairman of the Board, Mr Salter (Vincent Franklin), and several residents, including Ambrose (Derek Jacobi).

One that isn’t interviewed, but who is given an iPad to record her experiences, is retired librarian Mary Moss (Judi Dench).

Arriving at the hospital to visit his sick father – former coal miner Joe (David Bradley) – is a management consultant to the Health Secretary, Colin Colman (Russell Tovey).

He has recommended closure of the facility.

But there is more going on here than at first meets the eye.

Allelujah then takes a shocking turn in the final act.

I must say that is the only time I became interested in anything to do with this otherwise extremely boring, slow and laboured film.

The whole thing looked and felt manufactured.

I thought I was watching a really bad play.

Most of the elderly patients were nothing more than caricatures.

The movie is mired in paternalistic nonsense. It looked like a PR exercise, extolling the virtues of caring for patients.

And when Bally Gill as Dr Valentine broke the fourth wall to speak directly to us – the audience – it made my skin crawl.

If you want to know what dull looks like, simply try to sit through the first five sixth of Allelujah.

Very little happens. I was constantly looking at my watch, imploring the film to take off.

To me that gets down to the writing and direction because a decent list of actors has been assembled.

So, here is the bottom line, if you are considering seeing Allelujah, please think again.

I wished I had less than five minutes after entering the cinema.

Rated M, it scores a 2 out of 10.


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