When the geriatric ward in a small Yorkshire hospital is threatened with closure, it fights back by galvanizing the local community. The hospital invites a news crew to film the preparations for a concert honouring its most distinguished nurse.
Jennifer Saunders, Bally Gill, David Bradley, Russell Tovey, Derek Jacobi, Judi Dench
Allelujah is, for the first two acts, a genuinely sweet, entertaining, heartwarming film that effectively paints the NHS in a positive light whilst creating a lovely, comforting depiction of growing old in care.
The cast are doing a serviceable job at the least, but with a relatively large ensemble there are a few standouts. In the minor supporting cast, we have Judi Dench and Derek Jacobi providing performances fitting and emotional enough for what they’re trying to do, with the latter evoking a tear out of me at the very end. Higher up in the cast list are Russell Tovey and David Bradley, who’s performances ended up surprisingly being the heart of the experience for me. Their chemistry was truly my favourite aspect of the entire story, as their characters developed from what felt like estranged relatives to a caring father and son in a well-written and acted fashion. I also simply have to mention Bally Gill, who’s leading, virtually protagonist-like, role helped to pull everything together neatly.
But, aside from the cast and general vibe of Allelujah’s soothing indie aesthetic, there’s not much else to say in terms of positives. It looks nice visually, and all of these things could have been enough to carry it to a solid 7/10 by the time things wrapped up—especially with the closing monologue which worked far more for me than it seemed to have for others—but there’s one huge spoiler reveal that drags this down much more than I expected. Right before the film ends, by which I mean the literal final ten or fifteen minutes, a major twist happens that feels vastly out of place and creates almost complete tonal whiplash.
The results of that twist also lead to a jarring cut to a new location and time frame immediately, and it feels like the film’s third act was forcefully cut off from the rest with a blunt butter knife. It saves itself slightly with the ending monologue, but not quite enough for the film to reach the heights of being confidently good. It’s not only such an odd story choice, but it directly contradicts the touching message about how vital, and kind, the NHS are and why we need them. It’s set up at the start of the third act, but it feels so blatantly out of place that you just push it aside as an odd editing choice or shot selection—because why would it be what it seems?
Allelujah is far from being bad at the end of the day, and its charm, positivity, and loveable cast usually hold it up. It’s just a shame that the screenplay fumbles the bag so drastically in the third act.