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All that is b(r)e(a)st in British Film
Calendar Girls (DVD)
Member Name: gillyman
Calendar Girls (DVD)
Date: 06/11/03, updated on 06/11/03 (174 review reads)
Advantages: Superb cast, Funny, Well written
There was a time, not all that long ago, that the British film industry was something of a joke. A rich film making tradition all but disappeared westwards to Hollywood and critics turned their noses up at the few offerings available in favour of continental efforts.
Over the past few years however, British film has undergone a revival with succesful productions doing well not just in the UK but also on the other side of the Atlantic. Young British directors, combined with strong production values and some wonderful acting talent (which has always been in evidence) have spawned a small but significant number of films which have met with both critical and commercial success. Most obvious and best loved amongst these are Four Weddings and a Funeral, The Full Monty and Billy Elliot, although there are many, many more.
The factors which made the abovementioned films succesful are clearly evident in British cinema's latest succesful offering. Calendar Girls takes an excellent ensemble cast - full of faces you will recognise, adds a simple and believable storyline (in this case believable because it is based on a true story), a wonderfully witty, bittersweet script and a positive message. These are far more laudable ingredients then your typical Hollywood blockbuster where sensational effects and gratuitious sex and violence are the order of the day.
Please don't misunderstand me - I love an effects movie with lots of explosions and eye candy, but they don't generally leave me feeling uplifted in the same way that Calendar Girls did.
*****Synopsis - with nothing that will spoil your viewing*****
The start of the film introduces us to the Knapely branch of the Woman's Institute. All the preconceptions you might have about such an organisation are reinforced in an amusing way - boring lectures, organising fetes and making jam. Knapeley after all, is a quiet Yorkshire village where everyone knows each other's b
usiness and not much really goes on.
The death of John, the husband of Annie (Julie Walters) due to cancer, is the plot catalyst. Annie, together with her best friend Chris (Helen Mirren) decide to raise money to buy a new sofa in the waiting room of the hospital. Inspired by John's final musings on the beauty of Yorkshire's women, madcap Chris comes up with the idea that instead of issuing a WI calendar showing pictures of Yorkshire, that it should include nude pictures. The services of a photographer are sought and Chris and Annie try to persuade their friends to participate. The result is a traditional WI calendar (scenes of baking cakes, watering flowers, playing piano etc) with the twist that all the protagonists are tastefully posing naked.
Stop dribbling! It's all very politely done and although there is a lot of flesh on display, the important bits are all kept under wraps - most amusingly by a pair of cream buns complete with glace cherries!
The media frenzy which ensues leads to astronomical sales of the calendar, articles in the national press and even an appearance on the Jay Leno show. There is also a certain amount of tension amongst the participants, all of whom have to deal with a huge change in their quiet lives.
The dialogue is exceedingly humourous, consisting mainly of typical banter between a bunch of women with all of their idiosyncracies. I found myself laughing out loud in many places (to the embarrassment of the friend with whom I saw it - the cinema had a lot of non-English speakers who didn't get the gags so I was making a spectacle of myself). At the same time however, it is a movie tinged with sadness due to the nature of the catalyst.
The bottom line however, is that this is a feelgood movie. It has strong themes of friendship and charity running through it but most importantly shows exactly what a group of determined women can do when they put their minds to it. The ca
r eventually raised over half a million pounds - more than enough to buy a sofa! You will leave the cinema with a smile on your face - I promise!