Off The Rails – three women revisit their youth adventures in Europe (includes interview)
Off The Rails is the story of three fifty-something women set out to repeat the European inter-railing adventures of their youth after their close friend passes away leaving them rail tickets, and a final request: to take her 18 year-old teenage daughter with them in her place. With lost passports, train strikes and romantic entanglements thrown in their way, they must put old feuds aside to complete the journey within five days and remind themselves that they are still at their peak. The film stars Judi Dench, Jenny Seagrove, Elizabeth Dormer-Phillips, and the late Kelly Preston, in her last starring role.
This is a perfect movie to watch over the holidays, while we continue to hunker down and are wary of travelling abroad. Any movie that can take you places virtually, and make you long to visit in the future, is worth watching. Add in some comedy, some sorrow, and beautiful scenery, and voila!
The title itself is somewhat of a double entendre, as these three ladies try to rekindle their memories of youth, only to find out that the passing of time has driven each of them off the rails in their own unique ways. We see how people’s lives develop as we grow older, accepting the challenges and successes along the way as part of life. As the film progresses, we watch as the trio intermingle between themselves while losing sight of the younger Maddie, as they try to get themselves back on track, literally and figuratively. In the end, they fulfill the quest of their lost friend to experience the twice annual “Disco Ball” Light of God Festival at the Palma Cathedral in Mallorca, which they all missed during their initial travel adventures from their youth.
This is fairly standard Hollywood scripting, with dramatic conversations, drunken stupors, and comedic mishaps. Expect a feel-good experience that we all need during these trying times, as we all try to get back on track with our own lives. It also helps that Williamson assembled a strong female cast, and the entire film soundtrack is comprised of Blondie songs!
theBUZZ caught up with Director, Jules Williamson, to find our more about her feature directorial debut, which was inspired by her own real-life events.
“The film is based on my own life experiences when I went inter-railing with my best friends. We use to dance to the Talking Heads song, Once in a Lifetime, while we were in Greece. It had such resonance as I got older, and I found myself asking, “how did I get here?” As you approach midlife, you discover the beauty about friendship, and the quest given the characters in the film is about wanting them to reconnect and revisit their journey,” Williamson explains. The film is also a personal tribute to her friend Emma.
Williamson made her first short drama (Tattoo) back in 2002, and never lost her determination to get this feature film made. After watching the success of Mamma Mia and Bridesmaids, both mainstream films with women lead characters, she realized there was an audience who wanted to see themselves depicted in movies. Now in her 50s, she has succeeded in fulfilling her dream, and reaching her goal.
The dramedy was shot within a tight schedule of 26 days, at 38 locations, across four countries, and not without a couple complications, much like real life travel. “We had to film illegally in Paris during a rail strike at Gare du Nord train station,” she admits. As well, the “Disco Ball” scene was shot in a different church, as no filming is allowed in the original cathedral.
The use of Blondie original songs throughout does add effect to some of the narrative. For instance, Dreaming is played at the beginning as the women are given their quest to once again go inter-railing through Europe. Williamson also explained how The Tide is High was chosen specifically for the Karaoke scene, and Picture This was used for the post argument scene at the train station. “It’s one of my favourite Blondie songs, and worked well to accompany this intense and dramatic scene, before getting back on track.”
Williamson revealed that she’s “working on a television series, also about women in their 50s, and also another feature film that will once again be set in Mallora, and somewhat based on the film, Central Station.” She also admitted having aspirations to do more musical type narrative features. “I’d really love to do feature on Fleetwood Mac, and the making of Rumours. I also think the songs of Kirsty MacColl would make a wonderful film, and I’d like to work on biopic about her, and perhaps the Pogues, and their collaboration on Fairy Tale of New York.”
Here’s hoping we see more dreams come true from Jules Williamson.
Available from Vortex Media on VOD/Digital platforms December 10, 2021.
About the Author
Bryen Dunn is a freelance journalist with a focus on travel, lifestyle, entertainment and hospitality. He has an extensive portfolio of celebrity interviews with musicians, actors and other public personalities. He enjoys discovering delicious eats, tasting spirited treats, and being mesmerized by musical beats.