If you're looking for something to while away some time this fine spring weekend, I can't recommend anything more highly than spending time with the eminent British novelist Charmian Colston, her trying sister-in-law Dame Lettie, her faithful retainer Taylor, and even her rather odious "carer," the very uncaring Mrs. Pettigrew.
These ladies are the principal characters - along with a raft of varyingly hopeless men and one gallant retired police inspector - of Memento Mori, made from Miss Muriel Spark's novel of the same title. As to what happens to them? Well, it's sketched out at least in part by the title, an admonition I suppose we should all take to heart.
This little treasure was made for British television after its creators were assured by numerous producers that such a story, and about such old people, would never succeed in cinemas; it appeared in the U.S. on Masterpiece Theatre and was thereafter apparently more or less forgotten. If nothing else, it feels curious today to see a film in which Dame Maggie is very nearly - the wryly luminous Zoë Wanamaker aside - the youngest person on screen. Were a remake ever to be considered, she would make a very nearly ideal Dame Lettie Colston, don't you think? As it is, Stephanie Cole is marvelous in the role, although it's very nearly uncanny at times how much she resembles John Cleese in one of his Monty Python parts.
It's all enough to make me want a nice cup of tea and a twinset (if not some naughty underclothes). But then again, most things do...