Finding Your Feet(2017)
Submitted by Tornado Dragon
Shortly after Sandra, Bif, and their dance class find out from their instructor that they have been invited to perform at the Roma Biennale festival in a couple of months, Bif reveals to Sandra that she is dying; she recently discovered that she has Stage IV lung cancer, and given how advanced it is, she has decided against undergoing any treatments. Bif lets her friend (and Sandra’s love interest) Charlie know about her illness as well, but she binds him and Sandra to silence on the matter, both because she doesn’t want anyone to start treating her like a sick old woman and because she doesn’t want to ruin the positive mood surrounding the trip to Rome.
The dance class puts on a successful performance at the festival, but while Sandra is on a date with Charlie that night, she finds out from him that he is still married to his wife, Lilly, though he explains that she is dying from Alzheimer’s disease and no longer recognizes him or remembers their life together. Upset, Sandra tells him that, while she has grown really fond of him, she can’t be “the other woman” after what she has been through with Mike, and she walks back to her hotel room alone. The next morning, she sadly discovers that Bif has died in her sleep. Following the conclusion of Bif’s funeral back in London, Mike approaches Sandra and begs her to give him another chance. In the end, she decides to do so, and moves back in with him.
One day, Sandra receives a letter from Charlie informing her that Lilly has died and that he will be setting sail for France on his barge on the same day as her birthday party, and he invites her to come along with him. At her party, Sandra ends up telling Mike that their marriage is definitively over, having come to realize that she has spent the last 35 years betraying herself by giving up all that she was in order to be his wife, and after warmly saying goodbye to their daughter and grandson, she tells them that she is taking off to see the world. She then heads down to the Paddington Canal, where Charlie’s barge is, but when she gets there, she finds out from their friend Ted (who also lives on a barge there) that he took off just minutes ago. She thus runs down the paths along the side of the canal to try to catch up with him, and after she does so, the movie ends on a freeze frame of her jumping from the shore towards his barge.
While staying with Bif (Celia Imrie) and attending her dance class at the local community center over a period of several months, Sandra (Imelda Staunton) slowly loosens up and starts to enjoy herself and enjoy life, and she becomes close friends with Bif’s friends Ted (David Hayman), Jackie (Joanna Lumley), and Charlie (Timothy Spall), especially the latter. Also, the dance class helps her rediscover her long-buried passion for dancing. One night, during the Christmas season, she, Bif, and the rest of the dance class do a flash mob on the street to raise money for Age U.K., even though Bif is in pain, having hurt her lower back while helping Sandra move some of her belongings out of her and Mike’s (John Sessions) house some days ago. The performance ends up going viral, thanks to several of the spectators recording it and posting it online.
A couple of nights later, Bif orchestrates a get-together between just Sandra and Charlie, having already taken notice of their growing attraction to each other, and they have a very pleasant time together while making various stops around London. During their walk, Sandra tells Charlie that, in her youth, she sought to become a professional dancer, but shortly after she got through the second round of an audition for Chorus Line, she discovered that she was pregnant with her daughter, Nicola (Marianne Oldham), so she decided to focus on motherhood. She never pursued dancing again because Mike had a traditional view of family life and her being a regularly-performing dancer would not have fit into that. Later, when Charlie drops her off back at the council estate where Bif lives, he kisses her on the cheek. However, despite the fact that his feelings for Sandra are growing, Charlie is hesitant to give her all the details regarding his marital status; he is still married to his wife, Lilly (Sian Thomas), but she is in a nursing home dying from Alzheimer’s disease and no longer recognizes him or remembers their life together.
While Sandra, Bif, and the rest of the dance class are having a Christmas party at the community center some days later, their instructor, Corrinna (Indra Ové), announces to everyone that they have been talent-spotted; the artistic director of the Roma Biennale festival has invited them to perform there after seeing their flash mob online, and they leave for Rome on February 10th for two nights, all expenses paid. Sometime after Sandra, Bif, Ted, Jackie, and Charlie have dinner together at Bif’s apartment on Christmas Day, Sandra bears witness to Bif having what she claims is a bad asthma attack, and then later that night, she overhears Bif having a very rough coughing fit while she is trying to sleep. The next morning, Sandra notices Bif taking various unusual medications, and when she asks if they are for her asthma, Bif replies that she is dying. She explains that, when her doctor couldn’t figure out why her back pain wasn’t healing up, she got referred to an oncologist, and a couple of weeks ago, she got the results of a scan that revealed that she has Stage IV lung cancer. Also, because of how advanced her cancer is, she has decided to not bother with undergoing any treatments. Bif lets Charlie know about her illness as well, but she binds him and Sandra to silence on the matter, both because she refuses to let anyone treat her like a sick old woman and because she doesn’t want to ruin the positive mood surrounding the trip to Rome.
While making their way back to their hotel after spending their first night in Rome enjoying the sights, sounds, and foods of the city with the other members of their dance class, Bif tells Sandra that, back in 1969, she lived in Rome for a time and fell madly in love with a man named Gino, and they eventually became engaged. However, two weeks before she was supposed to move here permanently, he was killed in a car crash. After she got past grieving for him, she swore that she would never let herself feel that kind of pain again, hence her lifetime full of serial dating and one-night stands. However, she remarks that, being back here in Rome now, she regrets never falling in love again. The next morning, Sandra is roused from her sleep by a phone call from Nicola, who tells her that Mike has left Pamela (Josie Lawrence) and that he is going to call her. When Sandra expresses disinterest in getting back together with him, Nicola – who is hoping that they will reconcile – asks her to at least speak to him. Sandra then checks her watch and notices that her dance group is scheduled to perform very shortly, so she hangs up her phone and hurries over to the theater, and she manages to get there just seconds before showtime. Despite the pain that Bif is in, she, Sandra, and the rest of the dance group perform their routine virtually flawlessly, and the audience gives them a standing ovation afterwards. After returning to Bif’s hotel room, Sandra tells Bif that she is willing to stay with her tonight and not go out with Charlie like she originally planned, but Bif tells her to go on ahead and enjoy herself. She then asks her to promise her to not make the same mistake that she made, but Sandra admits that she has doubts about trusting someone again. Bif replies that, sometimes, you just need to take a leap of faith.
While Sandra and Charlie are hanging out at the Trevi Fountain, Charlie finally confesses that he is still married to Lilly, but he explains just how horrible her condition is. Sandra asks him if Bif knew about all of this, and he replies that she did, and when she then asks why Bif never told her about it, he answers that it is likely because she wanted them both to be happy again. He tells Sandra that he didn’t imagine that he would be able to move on, but then she came into his life, and he promises her that he did not set out to deceive her. Sandra tells Charlie that, while she has grown really fond of him, she can’t be “the other woman” after what she has been through with Mike, and then she walks back to her hotel room alone. While she is lying in bed thinking about what happened between her and Charlie, she gets a call from Mike, but she doesn’t answer it.
The next morning, Sandra has trouble getting in touch with Bif in her room, and she eventually resorts to having a maid come up to the room and open the door for her. However, she sadly discovers that the reason why Bif hasn’t been responding to her is because she died during the night in her sleep. A funeral is held for Bif back in London at the Hampstead Ponds (where she swam regularly), which is attended by the dance class, Nicola, Mike, and many others, and Sandra eulogizes her sister before scattering her ashes in the water. After the service, Charlie tries to have a chat with Sandra, but he is unsuccessful in doing so, and then Mike approaches her and offers her a big apology for being unfaithful to her before begging her to give him another chance. In the end, she decides to move back in with him, both to try to fix their marriage as well as pick up where she left off socially.
One day, Sandra gets a letter in the mail from Charlie. He informs her that Lilly has recently died, and now that she has reached the end of her journey, he intends to embark on a new one of his own; he is going to be setting sail on his barge from his moorings in the Paddington Canal for France, and he will be leaving on the same day as her birthday party. He then closes the letter with an invitation for her to come along with him. At Sandra’s party, her grandson, Luke (Sonny Fowler), asks her to dance with him, and when he soon tells her that he is bored with both the music and the style of dance that the other partygoers are doing, Sandra has the live band play something more upbeat and dances with Luke in a more energetic style. Mike soon comes up to Sandra and tells her that she is making a spectacle of herself, then accuses her of having had too much to drink before ushering her off the dance floor to get her a coffee. Sandra stops Mike and tells him that the last thing she needs is a coffee; she is stone-cold sober. She then tells him that she used to think that nothing could’ve been worse than being betrayed by him, but now, she has realized that she has spent the last 35 years betraying herself. She then gives Luke and Nicola a warm goodbye before leaving (both the house and her marriage), informing Nicola that she is taking off to see the world. Meanwhile, Charlie gets his barge ready for departure with Ted’s assistance, and when he starts to leave, he tells Ted that he ought to ask Jackie out since he has already noticed that they are clearly attracted to each other.
Sandra heads straight over to the Paddington Canal, and after she discovers that Charlie’s barge isn’t there, Ted appears and informs her that Charlie left just minutes ago. Sandra thus desperately hurries down the paths along the side of the canal to try to catch up with him, and she gets his attention once she manages to do so. She then makes ready to jump from the shore onto his barge, telling Charlie that she had decided to take a “leap of faith,” and the movie ends on a freeze frame of her making her jump.