Calendar Girls
R E V I E W   B Y   R I C H   C L I N E
calendar girls Beware: This warm and very funny film, based on a true story, is almost criminally crowd-pleasing! Chris and Annie (Mirren and Walters) are long-time friends and members of the Women's Institute chapter in their Yorkshire village, still giggling like schoolgirls through the dull lectures and not remotely taking the group's activities seriously. Then Annie's husband (Alderton) comes down with leukaemia, and Chris gets an idea to help raise money for the local hospital ... and to spark up the WI a bit. They'll pose tastefully nude for their annual fundraising calendar. It takes awhile to convince the other women this is a good idea, and they're sure it will be a disaster. But no, they all become an international sensation. Hollywood beckons! And their personal lives have to adjust to this new state of madness.

The filmmakers have borrowed the winning Full Monty formula right down to small details--sharply comic dialog, mildly racy innuendo, touching subplots and even a hilarious audition montage as the women look for a photographer. But instead of feeling derivative, the trick works to draw us into the story and engage with the women, who are all played perfectly by the fine cast, creating individual characters without resorting to stereotypes (much). At the centre, Mirren and Walters are excellent as usual, swapping the more-comic and more-serious roles effortlessly. Their journey as friends becomes the film's central point--not hugely involving but effectively giving the film a narrative arc that encompasses much more moving side-stories such as Wilton's marital crisis and personal rebirth, and the overwhelming outpouring of understanding from the public. Yes, this is one of those films that keeps us laughing loudly then surprisingly brings a tear to our eyes. It even captures Yorkshire life and the region's spectacular scenery (if not the accents) wonderfully without laying them, or the serious themes, on too thickly. Don't miss it.

cert 12 themes, language, nudity 16.Jun.03

dir Nigel Cole
scr Juliette Towhidi, Tim Firth
with Helen Mirren, Julie Walters, Penelope Wilton, Celia Imrie, Linda Bassett, Annette Crosbie, Ciaran Hinds, John-Paul McLeod, John Alderton, Geraldine James, Philip Glenister, Marc Pickering
release UK 3.Sep.03; US 19.Dec.03
03/UK 1h48

Miss January and Miss February: Mirren and Walters.

imrie bassett hinds
R E A D E R   R E V I E W S
send your review to Shadows... calendar girls Lisa, England: "Calendar Girls is fantastic. I've spoken with the director and told him that I loved it, and he said that I had to tell everybody it is not just for middle-aged women to see! I'm 20 and I definitely recommend it." (25.Jul.03)

Cornellius Willliams, Cornwall: 4 out of 5 stars "It reminds me of a simpler time." (3.Oct.03)

Laurie T, Minneapolis: 5 out of 5 stars "I hate to say it - but this is one of those must-see movies. Heartwarming and cute - you don't have to be under 21 to be photographed naked! I want to get one of these calendars - anyone know how I can get one?" (7.Jan.04)

Mary Hart, Sun City, Arizona: 5/5 "LOVED the movie - SO heartwarming and charming - it inspired our Red Hat Society chapters in Arizona to come out with our own 'nude' calendars for 2004 and 2005 to raise money for a nonprofit group giving school supplies to teachers in underprivileged school districts. My (red) hat is off to each and every one of the ladies and the actresses who portrayed them in the original calendar!" (1.Oct.04)

2003 by Rich Cline, Shadows on the Wall