Last weekend, I went to my local, three-screen cinema to see British auteur Terence Davies's exquisite and daring adaptation of Terence Rattigan's The Deep Blue Sea.
I had already seen a screening of it during the London Film Festival in October, but was dying to see it for a second time. It did not disappoint. I had no foreknowledge of the play, so enjoyed the story - and the apparent liberties Davies took with parts of it - at face value.
Set in London at the cusp of the 1950s ("around 1950" says the opening caption), it re-creates that dull, drab, colourless era, very much post-war, when rationing was still years away from ending, and bombed-out buildings still stood.
Davies (pictured above with Tom Hiddleston) remembers this era, and indeed longs for its simplicity and community spirit. His first features, both autobiographical, were Distant Voices, Still Lives and The Long Day Closes, both set in 1940s and 1950s Liverpool (his native city).
I love his films, although I'm not old enough to remember that time first hand. It was the era in which my parents grew up, though, and through them and my grandparents (who lived in the same houses they'd spent the war in), I felt a connection with it.
It was a Saturday-afternoon showing of The Deep Blue Sea, and pleasingly well attended. After all, this is not a "cool" film. It's not "sexy" in the modern sense of the world. And it's a 12A certificate, so will have little in it to thrill the lucrative teenage audience so blatantly favoured by - and courted by - Hollywood. Quite the opposite, as it turned out.
I observe the following with interest and not pejoratively: every other patron in that cinema seemed to have grey or white hair. (Hey, I have a certain amount of salt and pepper above the ears myself!)
I took no census afterwards - this is purely anecdotal - but it felt decisively as if this was a demographic of over-50s, with the majority more likely to be over 60. I found it encouraging that a new film could exhibit such an appeal to a more mature audience. This is surely good news when the opposite is so often the case.
This is an old-fashioned romance - a love triangle that deals with infidelity, shame and depression, so nothing marshmallowy - and its appeal to an older audience is clear. I'm not for a moment saying that over-50s wouldn't enjoy something far more barbed and challenging (that would be preposterous), or loud and silly, but they're not being catered for by The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn, say, whose shallow, self-absorbed, fifth-form concerns are specific to its adolescent target crowd - who presumably packed out the other screen where it was showing.
Indeed, irrespective of the average age of the audience at The Deep Blue Sea, it's heart-warming just to know that a nostalgic, torrid love story set in a relatively languid, airless bit of the past and pretty much free of explicit sex or nasty violence, can find backers and distributors at all.
A cinema should have room for all sorts - and all ages. And long may Terence Davies be funded to wallow so beautifully in the past.