It’s difficult to make a film about death that isn’t depressing, but I was hoping this one would dredge some kind of uplifting message out of the gloom. Unfortunately, it doesn’t. The picture features Annette Bening as stage and film star Gloria Grahame, who won a 1952 Best Supporting Actress Oscar for The Bad and the Beautiful but later suffered ill health and a downwardly spiraling career. I wanted to see her as a tragic figure who inspires others with her strength in difficult times, but I didn’t get that from the film, or from Bening.

The story, based on Peter Turner’s memoir of the same name, examines Gloria’s life in the late ‘70s and early ‘80s. She has beaten cancer once, but it returns. While living in Liverpool, England, she meets Peter (Jamie Bell), and they fall in love despite a large age gap. Later, he takes care of her as her health fails. Bell’s turn as Peter is sympathetic and natural, but Bening’s portrayal of Gloria’s neediness and childish ego is grating.

There was one moment toward the end of the film that moved me. Gloria has told Peter that she regrets never acting in Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet, so near the end of her life, he arranges a visit to an empty theater where they recite some of the play’s famous lines. The rest of the film, however, doesn’t strike the emotional chord it needs to.

SHOULD YOU SEE IT? No, it doesn’t deliver the goods.— J.J.