Running time: 99 mins
Kindly, hard-working Doctor Valentine (Bally Gill) has his work cut out for him at a chaotic, underfunded but colourful geriatric hospital in Yorkshire. Ruled over with an iron will by the majestic Sister Gilpin (Jennifer Saunders) and populated by a vocal and eccentric set of patients – amongst them the retiring Mary Moss (Judi Dench), depressive Ambrose (Derek Jacobi) and curmudgeonly Colin Colman (David Bradley) – the hospital stands as a beacon of hope and empathy in all its beleaguered glory. But with the arrival of a government inspector (Russell Tovey) who has a personal connection to the place, Valentine and his colleagues face a whole new set of problems as tough questions are asked and a chilling secret threatens the hospital’s future. Characteristically unsentimental, frank and attuned to the specifics of people and place, Bennett’s thematically rich and often hilarious play is given suitably sensitive treatment by Richard Eyre (The Children Act, Notes on a Scandal), who handles its tonal shifts, narrative twists and candidly political message with confidence. Unashamedly blunt in approach, this often refreshingly angry film stands as testament to two titans of UK culture: Bennett and our threatened National Health Service.
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