The Second Time Around is a simple little tale set against the grand soundtrack of the opera. The film follows Catherine (Linda Thorson), an elderly woman who loves music and dreams of seeing the opera at the Scala Opera House in Milan. When she has a bad fall and breaks her hip, Catherine is forced to move into an assisted care facility where she meets Isaac (Stuart Margolin). The two bond over their mutual love of music and begin to explore the possibilities of a romantic relationship.
At its core, The Second Time Around is about longevity and the beauty of age. The settings of the film are mundane and simple, nothing out of the ordinary, but with the music of great operatic works providing the soundtrack, music by Puccini, Verdi and Mozart swell to dominate the image, leaving the characters either awestruck or so caught up in the passion of it that they can’t help but join in and sing along. It’s a lovely juxtaposition of the ordinary and the spectacular, elevating even the simplest moment of the film into a grand gesture.
It is also about synchronicity from opposition. While this starts with the music contrasting the image, it is also apparent through the interactions and personalities of the characters. This is seen between Catherine and her daughter, Catherine and Isaac, and Catherine and her granddaughter Sarah providing the most striking visual contrast. Catherine is an elegant woman, impeccably dressed and articulate. By contrast, Sarah boasts a bleached pixie cut, a face full of piercings and a mumbling speech. The two women could not be more different and yet there is a deep affection between the two and an acceptance of what each has to offer.
Which is what makes The Second Time Around such a pleasant film. It makes no assumptions, taking for granted that a punk rock borderline goth girl could have a close relationship with her classy and elegant grandmother with no opposition. It never bows to the idea of the high versus low. The opera might be fancy, but that’s no reason that ordinary people can’t enjoy it as well.