A and A's Movie A Day

Watching movies until we run out.

Calendar Girls

November 19, 2010

Calendar Girls

Our goal today was to find a movie that would not, under any circumstances, piss us off. Something that did not fill us with rage. So we turned to this charming, touching and wonderful movie based on a true story of a group of middle aged English women who published a nude calendar to raise money for a local hospital. We knew this movie was good, although neither of us had seen it, because when we suggested once watching it with Amanda’s mother she instantly declared “Oh, I own that one.” If Amanda’s mother, who hardly watches movies at all and owns even fewer, already owns a movie then we can be pretty sure it will appeal to us.

So. Calendar girls. I mentioned this movie when we watched The Full Monty because the two movies seem a natural fit. Both are true tales of a plucky group of British people who decide for some reason to take their clothes off. In this case it’s a group of women taking off their clothes to raise money in honor of the husband of one who dies of cancer. So start the waterworks right at the beginning of the movie. I will admit that there were large parts of the movie I couldn’t see too well because my eyes were so filled with tears. But for the most part it is tears of joy, because this movie is one all about triumph and about empowerment.

Which is pretty much the appeal of the movie. Yes, the initial impetus for the calendar is based in tragedy, but then the story becomes about overcoming that tragedy and doing something worthy. As the movie progresses and the momentum of the project builds there’s an infectious sense of wonderment to the story. I love seeing these women thrust by their bold actions into a wholly unexpected spotlight – and seeing how gracefully they react. All of this is made more delightful by the featurette on the DVD that contains interviews with the actual women upon whom the movie was based. They seem to be every bit as delightful in real life as their film counterparts are, which is something I hadn’t really expected. Usually there is only a tiny seed of truth to a movie “based on a true story” but in this case it looks as though almost everything that we see on the screen is a pretty accurate depiction of the true events. The only obvious alterations for dramatic impact are a change to the identity of the calendar photographer and a side-plot about how the W.I. doesn’t approve of the endeavour, which doesn’t seem to have been the case.

In the footage of the real life calendar girls on the red carpet at Cannes along with the actresses who portrayed them in the film there’s a strange sort of sense of heightened reality. Part of this must be due to the wonderful performances from the women cast to play the part of simple ordinary house-wives. Of course I expected nothing less than a stellar job from Helen Mirren, of whom I have been a big fan since I first discovered her on Prime Suspect. But this is an ensemble cast and every woman on the screen is absolutely captivating. It was delightful to see Penelope Wilton, who we enjoy so much in The Norman Conquests here playing a shy housewife who doesn’t at first realize why her husband takes so many business trips. Julie Walters is the heart of the movie as Annie – the woman who’s husband dies. She carries a lot of responsibility on her shoulders because it is her strength in the face of adversity that drives the movie. Walters’ performance is moving and heart-rending and uplifting.

These women did something outrageous, brash, courageous and amazing and succeeded beyond any possible expectation. It is a delight to enjoy this journey with them and as the movie draws to a close you can’t help wishing you could meet these women yourself and congratulate them. I could see this movie being something calming to throw in on a rough day simply for something fun to watch. And Oh! I haven’t even mentioned the amazing and beautiful countryside shown in both the movie and the special features. I want to move to England now even more than I did before watching this. This movie met every goal I had for tonight and surpassed it. I was not enraged. I was delighted and enraptured. Thank you, ladies.

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November 19, 2010 - Posted by | daily reviews | , , , ,

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