Projections - Movie Reviews

Calendar Girls
Calendar Girls

Helen Mirren, Julie Walters, John Alderton,

Linda Bassett, Annette Crosbie, Philip Glenister

Calendar Girls has been promoted as the next Full Monty and it is a bright, witty film even if it doesn't have the depth or pacing of Peter Cattaneo's winning look at unemployed Sheffield, England steel workers.

Nigel Cole, who worked well with Brenda Blethyn in (Saving Grace) is equally successful with Helen Mirren Gosford Park and Julie Walters Billy Elliot.

The wide-screen lensing of a lush Knapely on the Yorkshire dales takes one into the lives of Mirren's Chris and Walters' Annie who perform yoga exercises in verdant fields with other housewives who belong to the Women's Institute. Having unlikely people drop their clothes is inspired by a real story of women doing it for their group's calendar. Chris becomes January, and the others follow suit.

Chris gets an idea from Annie's husband, John, an affecting small role for John Alderton, who is stricken with leukemia, and dies when chemotherapy fails. She remembers a suggestion of John regarding the last phase of the sunflower and visually gets confirmation from a visit to a bike repair shop with her son when facing the mechanic's girly calendar.

Chris and Annie want to help the hospital where John was treated and stripping for the Woman's Institute appears to be the ticket. With the help of the nervous, able photographer, Lawrence (Philip Glenister), they eventually become media darlings.

The writing of Tim Firth and Juliette Towhidi nicely reflect the bemused attitudes of the long-suffering husbands. Besides the opposition of the Women's Institute council, as endowed by the haughty Geraldine Jones as Marie, there's the embarrassment of Chris' teenage son coming into the kitchen during rehearsal.

When the ladies are given the Hollywood treatment, Calendar Girls loses some of its appeal, as they visit Jay Leno on the Tonight Show and ride down Sunset Strip in a limo.

While Cole brings an offbeat, genial sensibility to it all, Mirren and Walters are the key in a film with some good lines of dialogue. Mirren excels in a lively turn and Walters is more restrained and subtle than expected in a comedy backed by "considerably bigger buns."

Calendar Girls

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