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Calendar Girls

June 29, 2013

Calendar Girls (2003)
Director: Nigel Cole
Actors: Helen Mirren, Julie Walters, Geraldine James

Calendar Girls

Synopsis: The ladies of the Women’s Institute in Knapely, Yorkshire decide to pose for a naughty, semi-nude calendar to raise money for charity after one of their members, Annie (Julie Walters), loses her husband to leukaemia. The calendar brings dilemmas and conflict, as much as it is a force for good.

Review: This film came at the back-end of a cycle in the late ’90s/early ’00s where Hollywood lapped up these superficially parochial, feelgood numbers about those plucky, genial Brits. We had The Full Monty, Brassed Off and Saving Grace, and Calendar Girls probably eked out just about any remaining novelty and goodwill from this genre of films.

Director Nigel Cole and his expert cast keep the material just the right side of the downright cynical, and the cancer subplot that starts the film (Julie Walters’ character’s husband dying from leukaemia) is pitched just about right – the sombreness of such a development is honoured, but equally it’s not overly laboured so the narrative can move on breezily enough to its main ‘middle-aged women getting naked’ hook. Yorkshire is a suitably pictureseque backdrop – although I think it has been slightly prettified and one-dimensionalised for an American market. And, talking about the Americans, it’s hard not to feel that the laboured section where the women go to Hollywood and have the clichéd conflict for the climatic resolution, wasn’t pandering to potential audiences across the pond a little too much. (June 2013)

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