I'll Be There

 (Peter is the London-based president of SIGNIS, the World Catholic Association for Communication)

In the history of the movies, there have always been star vehicles introducing the popular singer of the time. In 2003 UK, it is Charlotte Church. Charlotte Church was a singing sensation at the age of thirteen, singing for Pope, Queen and royalty, presidents and a world-wide public.

This film has been written and directed by its star, Scot Craig Ferguson, who found fame in The Drew Carey Show. He has also appeared in The Big Tease and Saving Grace. A strong British cast of character actors fills out the supporting role with Jemma Redgrave as mother, Joss Ackland as a 70 year old relic of the rock'n'roll era who can still stir up and entertain the oldies.

The plot is as old as the hills (with a Billy Elliot finale). That means we know what is going to happen but the enjoyment is in how we get there. Charlotte is Olivia, a very nice sixteen year old young lady who lives in Cardiff (Church's home city). Her mum is a flourishing hairdresser, prim and reserved. Craig Ferguson is an alcoholic burnt out star who has to have psychiatric treatment and is helped to AA by an Australian colleague. But mum has a secret from her wilder days and Olivia is the result. Circumstances change and it is time for mum to tell Olivia the truth about her father, the rock star.

It is a matter of mum melting, or cooling it (whichever applies), dad drying out and letting his nicer side be seen, grandpa offering his advice and Olivia, who has her secret as well - she has been taking singing lessons - to follow her dream of becoming a singer.

This is as traditional and popular film-making as you can get. It is full of hope that people can admit their mistakes and change. Good things can happen. (Critics groan at this niceness but multiplex audiences will have a nice time.) Charlotte Church gets to sing a Welsh song, a modern ballad, 'Reach out... I'll be there' and Gershwin's Summertime. Her image is intact and enhanced.

LONDON - 19 June 2003 - 366 words

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