Ladies in Lavender

Here’s an odd wisp of heritage drama, adapted from a story by William J Locke and directed by journeyman actor Dance. He presents a formidable grande-dame pair – Judi Dench and Maggie Smith – as symbiotic sisters living out their twilight years in 1936 Cornwall, where handsome shipwreck

victim Daniel Brühl (‘Good Bye Lenin!’) washes ashore one unassuming day. While the mysterious young man, who doesn’t speak a word of English, heals up in their spare bedroom, sensible sis Janet (Smith) attempts communicating with him in German, flightier Ursula (Dench) develops a secret but fiery crush on him, and out-of-towner Natascha McElhone whisks the lad away to nurture his soon-evident violin-playing talent. It’s all as postcard-pretty, pleasantly dull, and wholly inconsequential as it may sound; Dance tiptoes around Ursula’s suppressed desires so nervously that her character remains frustratingly oblique, though the redoubtable team of Dench and Smith have a prickly but affectionate rapport that feels decades lived-in.

Release details

Rated: 12A
Release date: Friday November 12 2004
Duration: 103 mins

Cast and crew

Director: Charles Dance
Screenwriter: Charles Dance
Cast: Judi Dench
Maggie Smith
Natascha McElhone
Daniel Brühl
Miriam Margolyes
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