Calendar Girls

  • Film
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Inspired in rougly equal measures by the famous Women's Institute nudie calendar concocted by the ladies of Rylstone and District in 1999 and by a certain male striptease box office bonanza, this chipper Britcom aims to please. And for the first 40 minutes or so, it does. When Annie's husband dies of leukaemia, she and her best friend Chris are moved to raise some money in his memory. But persuading the coffee morning circuit to bare their bosoms is only half the battle. While director Cole (Saving Grace) negotiates the potentially maudlin backstory skilfully enough, the film's strongest suit was always going to be the comedy of embarrassment: the ladies' mixed feelings about their own bodies; the confused reactions of their husbands and children; the media feeding frenzy which follows. Hard to see how this could miss, and a cast packed with consummate comic actresses like Walters, Mirren, Bassett, Crosbie, Imrie, James and Wilton milks it for all it's worth. Coy when it comes to bared flesh, the film flinches from anything tantamount to eroticism ('We're nude, not naked'), and has surprisingly little to say about middle-aged sexuality. Unfortunately, that timidity makes for a 40-minute anti-climax as the women are swept up in a media storm, or, at least, a media ripple when they're invited on to the Jay Leno show. Cue banal observations about celebrity. Not quite The Full Bunty, then, though the goodwill generated by the cast certainly helps.

Release details

Duration: 108 mins

Cast and crew

Director: Nigel Cole
Screenwriter: Tim Firth, Julie Towhidi
Cast: Rosalind March
Angela Curran
CiarĂ¡n Hinds
Celia Imrie
John Alderton
Georgie Glen
George Costigan
Annette Crosbie
Graham Crowden
Julie Walters
Geraldine James
Penelope Wilton
John Fortune
Linda Bassett
Philip Glenister
Helen Mirren
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