CALENDAR GIRLS

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Calendar Girls CoverNow what would you do for charity? Would you run for people with rickets? Would you dance for people with diabetes? Or would you get your tits out for people with tuberculosis? Well – maybe not for tuberculosis – as seen in this true life story brought to the big screen by Director: Nigel Cole; and Actors: Helen Mirren, and Julie Walters. It was made in 2003 and lasts for 108 minutes.


Calendar Girls


THE STORY:
Once upon a time in the quant English village of Napley, a sprightly middle aged housewife, called Chris Harper (Helen Mirren), becomes very disenchanted with the secular feminine organisation she belongs to, ‘The Women’s Institute’.

Month in, Month out, she is presented with activity after activity after activity, all of which doesn't take her fancy one little bit. So what does she do about it, huh?

Strip -- that's what.

Granted, she doesn't just flash her jumblies for the sake of it. Of course not. She does it to raise some money for the hospital who cared for her best friend husband whilst he was dying of leukaemia.

Oh! Wait a minute! You do know who Chris's best friend is, don't you? It's Annie Clarke (Julie Walters). And she is a member of the ‘The Women’s Institute', who along with Chris, encourages the members of the 'WI' to join them in this charitable venture.

Yeah. You name it. They do it. They get a photographer -- check. They get some ‘girls’ together willing to pose nude -- check. They get some funding -- check. And then they snap-snap-snap all the way to kingdom come -- check. 

Well, in a manner of speaking of course.

You see, the results of this endeavor do have some rather negative reproductions all in all. Firstly, the head of the Napley branch of the Women’s institute, Marie (Geraldine James), doesn't care for the connotations associated with Chris and Annie’s ‘project’ -- and she tries her best to stop this Calendar from being published. Secondly, one of the women who partook in this photo-shoot, Ruth Reynoldson (Penelope Wilton), husband leaves her because of this fact -- the cheating git. Thirdly, when Chris and Annie eventually manage to get Marie to change her mind in this matter, they're very surprised see the sudden overwhelming media coverage that begins to impinge upon everybody’s lives. And fourthly, Chris’ family life takes a turn for the worst because of this press invasion, plus she feels shunned by the ‘Calander Girls’ when they are invited to go to Hollywood and she is left behind to take care of her kin.

Though maybe that's why what next transpires starts off in Hollywood and ends in Napley. As old friend fight – the media exploits – views are aired – and charity is garnished with a surprising amount of money that no one would have thought possible.




THE REVIEW:
I remember when the true-story behind this film, ‘Calendar Girls’, first hit the media. I just thought to myself “Old girls with their jumblies out! What is so special about that?”. And to be completely honest with you, I though the exact same thing for quite some time, until I heard that they was going to turn this true-story into a film.

Well, you see, it was only really at this juncture that I discovered why these Grannies flubbed their frontage to begin with – to raise some money due to dead a spouse – and that is when I thought “Ha! Motivation + Nudity + ‘Something Different’ = a story well worth being told”.


The Real Calendar Girls


Now was I right about my subsequent presumption? Was this dramatisation a worthwhile tale for the ages? Errr! HELL YES! In fact, it is precisely because this film is based on a true story – as well as having an all star Brit cast of the mature lady variety – that makes this project so good.

To begin with, all the women are just sublime in this film, as they are all able to give each of their characters that extra something to make them more than just a generic ‘mature female’. Helen is feisty – Julie is adorable – Penelope is amazing – Linda is sweet – Geraldine is potent – Ceilia is foxy – and Annette is just special with her schoolmarm exuberance. Also, in addition to this, the story is funny too – especially with those extra ‘insert’ scenes that gives this piece that added dimension in Englishness and pathos. Plus, please let’s not forget that the overall presentation is pure class in a can – and does in no way stoop to the lower bases of taste – as it could have easily done.


The cast of Calendar Girls


However, where ‘Calendar Girls’ does falter slightly, is in the second-half of the film – because after the girls take their ‘kit off’, this proceeding section does meander around for quite some time, and starts to take on the generic movie making story conventions of hills and valleys.

Nevertheless, as I said previously, this is only a slight quibble overall – because this is a great depiction of a great story by a great cast. Heck, after watching a film like this one, you can not help but wonder why ‘Hollywood’ has not made more films with an all ‘mature woman cast’ more often? Why have there not been more positive films to show what ‘women of a certain’ age have accomplished? Come on – lets face it – look in the history books and tell me that there is not another story that captures the same feminine spirit than this one has!


Calendar Girls in America


Anyway, enough of that for now, as I would just like to end this review with a great quote from this film...

 “Darling, you’re naked in the Daily Telegraph. Can you pass me the bacon please?”

... a class film, and a story well worth being told.

THE RATING: A