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Calendar Girls (2003)
Reviewed on 2013 February 13
Fact-based story of a Women’s Institute that wants to do something noble when one of them loses her husband to cancer. The problems arise when not everybody is on the same page.
Annie (Julie Walters) and Chris (Helen Mirren) are best friends in the same stodgy WI, a sleepy but earnest (and kind) group of women who raise funds for various causes. They usually stick with conventional means, like bake sales featuring plum jams and cakes that would tempt a model off a catwalk. There is also a lovely annual calendar of stuff like the Yorkshire countryside, but it’s a snoozer as far as a money maker. Where these women live, if you want a nice pastoral view all you have to do is open your window.
When Chris learns Annie’s spouse is dying, she does the one practical thing she can think of. She wants to at least give the families waiting in the oncology wing a nice expensive couch, instead of the miserable back-breaker Annie had to deal with. The unorthodox Chris decides to bring in lots of money with a variation on a girlie calendar: the women may wear little more than a hat and a tasteful pair of earrings, but they’ll behind strategically-placed foods, flowers and so forth. For some reason the women who may think the paintings of Lady Godiva with braids and flowers covering everything is funny, can’t see the wit in Chris’s idea.
I enjoyed this because it wasn’t just about launching a calendar and making money — it was about friends pulling together when one of their own was suffering. Helen Mirren and Julie Walters were great in the leads, with Mirren shining as that one friend you have that would do anything for you. The humor, broad and dry, was great. The Chris character doing her sleight-of-hand with the sponge cake towards the beginning was especially funny.
Three chocolate morsels. A true story of people doing good + British humor = WIN.