Throughout his career, British director Michael Radford has been making films about couples of various kinds, from the urban Brits of 1984 to the rural Italians of Il Postino. In his remake of the 2005 Spanish-Argentinian hit Elsa y Fred, a rumpled widower (Christopher Plummer, who won his first Oscar at 82 for Beginners) moves into the same New Orleans apartment building as a vivacious fabulist (Shirley MacLaine). Eighty-year-old Fred, who describes himself as “the dead living,” spends his days sleeping or playing video games with his grandson (Moonrise Kingdom’s Jared Gilman), while 74-year-old Elsa dreams of wading through Rome’s Trevi Fountain like Anita Ekberg in La Dolce Vita (since Fellini’s 1960 film exposes the lie behind “the good life,” this seems unintentionally ironic).

Against all but movie odds, they hit it off, and Elsa becomes the Maude (the life force) to Fred’s Harold (the death force). By the time friendship turns to romance, light comedy segues into twinkly sentimentality, and the film fizzles out. For a more convincing take on late-in-life romance, look no further than Paul Cox’s 2000 Innocence, which doesn’t try so hard to ingratiate. MacLaine and Plummer are good together, but Elsa & Fred is only so-so. recommended