5 Jul 2022
Libby Villari, Gayland Williams
Rosie (Villari) and Alice (Williams) are an elderly couple in the Autumn of their lives. They've been out enjoying a short break together, wandering around new places, seeing the sights and visiting the local markets. Rosie already has a bag full of souvenirs, but she wants one more, so she picks up a small cactus from a vendor and calls it, Milton.
On the way back to their car, Rosie has a bit of a funny turn and nearly falls over. The two of them decide they've been hard at it for long enough and that it's time to head back to the hotel for a well deserved rest. Alice lays down on the bed to catch forty winks while Rosie decides she wants to sit and talk to Milton for a while. She goes to grab some tea from the hallway before settling down but when she comes back, Rosie finds that her life has changed forever.
The rest of the film plays in flashback as memories the two shared are floated on screen, while a haunting love song (I Will Love You by Fisher) is played over the images. At this point the film leans very heavily into its themes and imagery and somewhat morphs into the last act of the Bette Midler classic weepy, Beaches (1988). 'I Will Love You' could very easily be a stand in for 'Wind Beneath My Wings' and some of the shots, costumes and scenarios being reminisced over look like they could have been lifted right out of that 80's melodrama.
In itself, Milton is very finely shot with a great amount of detail given to lighting and cinematography so that everything seems vibrant and natural. The two main actors are perfect for their roles, coming across as a plausible couple, dropping hints about their lives together whilst also communicating many things which aren't said. The death, when it happens, is a bit sudden and not realistically dealt with, but this can be overlooked when the depth of emotion being shown really holds the scene together.
For all that Milton tries to tell us about love and acceptance, it does feel like it has all been told before, and pretty much in exactly the same way. Thankfully, by watching this we don't have to be subjected to the two hour turgidness that is Bette Midler's legacy, but all in all it's the same outcome.
What Milton gives us is an easy way in to a difficult situation, which it then deals with in a brief runtime. The story is neat and tightly packaged while the production serves the film well. While it may not be entirely original, Milton delivers the emotional resonance where it needs to. And there's a cactus.