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Calendar Girls

Starring: Helen Mirren, Julie Walters, Linda Bassett, Annette Crosbie, Celia Inrie, Geraldine James, Penelope Wilton and Ciaran Hinds.
Directed by: Nigel Cole
Rated: R

Calendar Girls is a mature comedy that proves one doesn't have to grow old without a bit of roaring fun along the way.

Story goes… Chris (Helen Mirren) and Annie (Julie Walters) have been friends for eons. They grew up together and now, in their fifties, reside peacefully in a northern English town.

When Annie's husband becomes very ill the two try to comfort each other, idling away hours desperate for better news at their local hospital. They notice the waiting room doesn't lend itself to assisting in even the modest comforts one should receive during such a trying time.

As a salute to Annie's husband the two decide to raise money to buy a proper couch for the hospital's waiting room. They belong to rather dull cakes, pies and jam sort of women's club called, The Women's Institute (the WI). They call upon their "sisters" at the WI to assist. They will produce a charity calendar, as the group does every year. But this year there'll be a difference. The calendar wont be mountain brooks and fauna, it will be these very proper Yorkshire women naked and performing daily tasks and crafts; their naughty bits strategically covered by objects in a most artful way.

Each woman decides to join in the calendar for her own liberating reasons - besides baring it all for a good cause that is…

Naturally when the unconventional calendar starts to circulate it immediately unsettles the small town this troupe dwell within. But, it also captures the imagination of the international press. In fact the gals are even invited stateside to meet with Jay Leno and the like.

But en route to success Chris and Annie's friendship will be tested and their resolves stretched.

There's a bit of melodrama that seems almost plopped in around this area - but then it picks up again. Calendar Girls is a friendly fun beautifully shot film. What works about the film is the performances and the genuine warmth the group of women have for one another, and of course "Chris" and "Julie's" bonds make even the hardest hearted of us just weep.

It's a joy to see Helen Mirren frolicking on the screen delivering a unique role for the usually serious thespian. She's usually stern browed and sourpussed judging those around her or conniving beneath her breath. Not here. Her "Chris" is full of life and down to Earth goodness.

Bluntly speaking? Helen Mirren steals the show, of course, but the whole cast delivers solidly. It can be a tad slow and gosh-golly at times, but over all Calendar Girl's genuine heart shines through.

Snack recommendation: Bottles and bottles of wine and a digital camera...



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