26 December 2009

You've got Mail (starring Tom Hanks and Meg Ryan)

I suppose this movie was recommended to me by Amazon because I've watched and enjoyed others with Tom Hanks. I was given it for Christmas, so on Boxing Day we sat down to enjoy an evening of light entertainment.

And, indeed, it's a gentle, warm and pleasantly predictable romantic comedy of the kind which I like very much.

Meg Ryan stars as Kathleen, a young woman who runs a small bookshop. it's a pleasant place, offering a good service, and she's contented in her job... except that the owner, Joe Fox (played by Tom Hanks) doesn't consider it financially viable and wants to close it down. So they're locked in battle and dislike each other intensely...

..Except that Kathleen and Joe have also met anonymously in an Internet chat-room, and communicate via email. They are gradually getting to know each other better while - wisely - concealing any personal details or identities from each other.

We felt that this film was nicely done, well-paced, and enjoyable for a relaxing evening. No great mental effort was required, and there are no fast chases or rapid action shots. Perhaps it feels a little dated now, since Internet technology has moved on significantly in the ten or eleven years since this was made, but that didn't really worry me at all.

Definitely recommended to anyone who likes this genre, with a 1990s twist.

Review copyright Sue's DVD Reviews

06 December 2009

Annie (starring Aileen Quinn)

The only reason we have the musical 'Annie' in our collection is that it came as a special offer combined with a different musical film. And although I am sure I had watched it at some point in the past, our DVD version sat on our shelves for at least a couple of years until I watched it a few weeks ago with some friends, including children down to the age of four. The children's mother remembered enjoying it very much in her childhood, and the rating was 'U' ('G' in the USA). While we vaguely remembered a tense moment at the end, we assumed this film would be entirely suitable for children of all ages.

The story is a classic, and the DVD was based on the broadway stage show, which was itself apparently based on a cartoon comic strip. The precocious orphan Annie who loves to sing longs to be adopted. She is fostered by a week by a wealthy man, and turns his life upside down in many ways.

So we were rather shocked - given the rating - that there was some bad language (albeit minor), drunkenness (supposedly humorous, but rather extreme) and even some sexual references. We felt that the rating should have been at least PG, possibly even 12/PG-13.

While I don't mind musicals, I have to admit that I don’t particularly like the music in this film, and found Annie slightly annoying rather than adorable. Perhaps it was the old-fashioned style, despite having been made in the 1980s. The ending was melodramatic and predictable by the time it appeared.

But still, it was a likeable film in some ways; I didn't give up in boredom but watched it to the end, and might even consider re-watching it again one day.

Review copyright Sue's DVD Reviews

13 October 2009

Educating Rita (starring Michael Caine and Julie Walters)

We first saw the film 'Educating Rita' many years ago - probably the mid 1980s shortly after it was made - in the cinema. I hadn't really thought about buying the DVD, but was pleased to be given it by a family member who had it free from a newspaper in the UK.

Michael Caine stars in this movie as Frank, a heavy drinking university lecturer, who finds his students tedious and arrogant. Into his life comes the lively Rita (Julie Walters). She is an intelligent, free-thinking girl with a traditional, almost caricatured working class background who is determined to study for an Open University degree in order - she hopes - to improve her lot.

Unfortunately, Rita's husband strongly disapproves of her ambitions and wants to keep her just the way he is. Moreover, the other more traditional students don’t know quite what to make of her. During the process of the film Rita goes through some very difficult patches as her marriage starts to fall apart, but through it all she is determined to keep learning about literature.

It’s a classic story on the Cinderella theme; or perhaps, as it’s usually classified, more like story of Pygmalion. The difference being, of course, that Rita is the one who chooses to apply herself to learning, rather than being forced into a mould by someone else.

The acting is excellent, the story entirely believable, and the ending bittersweet. It all looked rather dated; we assumed it was probably made in the 1960s, and were a bit startled to learn that it was produced as recently as 1983.

Definitely recommended. Rated PG in both the UK and USA; probably due to some tense scenes, and the implied drunkenness. However it would probably not interest anyone younger than about ten or eleven, perhaps older still.

Review copyright Sue's DVD Reviews

03 September 2009

Quantum Leap series 5 (starring Scott Bakula and Dean Stockwell)

We have been watching the entire five series of Quantum Leap on DVD for nearly four years now – one or two at a time, usually once or twice per month. And, at last, have finished watching the fifth and final series.


'Quantum Leap' was originally an American TV series in the late 1980s, early 1990s, which I became quite hooked on for many months. I was therefore delighted when they were all, gradually, released on DVD enabling me to re-watch episodes I had enjoyed, and catch up with those I had missed.

The series features Sam (brilliantly played by Scott Bakula) as a quantum physicist. In the first series he was caught up in a time travel experiment and found himself leaping around from person to person in different dates withinhis own lifetime, ‘putting right what once went wrong’. He is aided - and sometimes hindered - by his hologram sidekick Al (Dean Stockwell) who co-ordinates between Sam's new reality and the computer back home. Al, as a serial womaniser, provides much of the humour of the series.

We started watching this fifth and final series in the middle of 2009, slowing down our pace as we reached the last DVD, not really wanting it to finish. It's a powerful set of episodes, including one about Marilyn Monroe, one about John F Kennedy, and a few slightly odd (and tense) ones when another time traveller becomes involved... with aims opposite to Sam's.

We finally watched the last two episodes a few days ago. The penultimate one showed Sam becoming Elvis Presley just before he was discovered; he is supposed to help someone else, but also must ensure that Elvis does not lose his chance of fame. More light-hearted than some, I particularly enjoyed that episode. However, I was less impressed by the final one which was rather confusing, and ended, in my view, rather too abruptly.

Still, this series was well worth watching, if only because we learn rather more about the whole 'Quantum Leap' experiment. I’m no fan of science fiction in general, but I love the interactions between Sam and Al, and the wide range of scenarios covered. Character development is good too, and there are some amusing moments, as well as some clever references to history, from time to time.

Definitely recommended.

Quantum Leap Series 5 is rated 12 in the UK (in other words, not suitable for children under that age) but is not rated in the USA.

Review copyright Sue's DVD Reviews

06 August 2009

Northanger Abbey (starring Felicity Jones)

'Northanger Abbey' is the most light-hearted of Jane Austen's novels. It's a little different from the others in that it’s overtly amusing, rather than the humour being in the irony and deliciously ghastly people. It's also something of a spoof on the ‘gothic’ novels of the time.

This adaptation – made originally for ITV – is fairly true to the book, with characters who seemed very realistic to me. The heroine, Catherine Morland (Felicity Jones) seemed particularly believable. The story shows her longing for adventure and romance, then seeing plots and dastardly deeds in the most ordinary of circumstances.

My husband watched this film with me and despite not having read the book, enjoyed it too. I wasn't sure if it would be understandable without knowing the story already, but he had no problems. There were a couple of moments when we both laughed out loud - all in all, a pleasant film.

Rated PG in the UK, and not rated at all in the USA.

Review copyright Sue's DVD Reviews

13 July 2009

Billy Liar (starring Tom Courtenay)

'Billy Liar' is a fairly is a popular classic film from 1963, which I hadn’t seen before. Possibly I would never have done so, but for a free offer in a Saturday paper, passed on to us by relatives.

Billy (Tom Courtenay) is a young man who dreams of a better life, and has a fantasy world which he escapes to at times. Unfortunately, despite being an adult working as a clerk, he has still not learned to distinguish fact from fantasy. So he makes ups stories not just for his parents but also tells them to his friends and colleagues.

Billy has managed to get engaged to two different young women, due to this bizarre character quirk, and is in big trouble for having forgotten to post a large number of calendars some months previously.

It felt extremely old-fashioned in style, more like a 1950s film. There were a few amusing moments, and it was interesting to see the film that – apparently – was the first one featuring the young Julie Christie. But on the whole I thought it silly rather than humorous, and basically a sad reflection of someone living such a boring life that he has never grown up.

Rather a discouraging ending, too. Not really recommended.

Rated PG in the UK, but not rated at all in the US. Not currently available in America.

Review copyright Sue's DVD Reviews

04 July 2009

The Glass Virgin (starring Emily Mortimer)

I’ve read a few of Catherine Cookson’s historical novels, and haev usually found them a bit too full of gritty reality, sometimes with rather depressing endings. So I wasn’t too sure what to expect of this DVD; it came free in a newspaper and was passed on to me by a relative. I had not read the book so had no idea of the story. It was originally a mini-series on British TV.

The story opens with Annabella, a ten-year-old child of luxurious circumstances in the 1870s, who doesn’t understand that her beloved father is a promiscuous, violent spendthrift. The first part of the film shows her background, and uncovers a few family secrets. Annabella's naive innnocence gets some of the servants into big trouble.

Then the plot leaps forward seven years, and Annabella’s life takes on a very different form. Her father is threatened with bankruptcy, and she finally learns the shocking truth about her past.

I thought the production was extremely well done. I was particularly impressed with the young Annabella, and also with Nigel Havers as her unpleasant (but attractive) father. I would have been happier without one violent boxing scene – I averted my eyes – but other than that, it was, on the whole, an enjoyable film.

Since it was originally a series, the film was quite long at two and a half hours; I was relieved that the ending was much more satisfactory than I had feared.

Rated PG in the UK, although I would personally have thought that a 12 rating would be more appropriate. It does not seem to be available in the USA.

Review copyright Sue's DVD Reviews

06 June 2009

Yours, Mine and Ours (starring Lucille Ball and Henry Fonda)

'Yours, Mine and Ours' is an American film from 1968, based apparently on a true story.

The story is about two widowed people with large families who meet and fall in love. Frank (played by Henry Fonda) has ten children, while Helen (Lucille Ball) has eight. With so many children, it takes much discussion and indecision before they decide that they really do want to get married.

Trying to blend the two families together (eighteen children in all, aged eighteen down to about two) produces significant difficulties... as might be expected. The children are not particularly unpleasant, but they're all quite lively and none of them is keen on the idea of a whole host of new step-siblings.

There’s some humour, and quite some touching moments, with a fairly predictable resolution. It feels comfortably dated, and while it's rated PG in the UK due - I assume - to some alcohol and sexual references, in the US it is not rated at all. There's nothing too deep in the storyline, which keeps moving along at great pace, so it makes a pleasant evening’s viewing for a couple or family, without any great mental strain.


Review copyright Sue's DVD Reviews

25 May 2009

Orlando (starring Tilda Swinton)

I'm not a fan of Virginia Woolf's novels, and it would never have occurred to me to buy any of the film adaptations of them. However, we were given 'Orlando' from a relative who received it as a free DVD with a Saturday newspaper, and finally decided to sit down and watch it.

I have to say, it was one of the most bizarre films I have ever seen. I gather that it's a clever adaptation of Woolf's novel of the same name, but I am not inspired to read it, having seen this. The fact that the male lead is played by a woman (and Queen Elizabeth by a man) turns out to be one of the least strange parts of it.

Tilda Swinton stars as the young nobleman Orlando, in a historical panoramic play that begins in the court of Queen Elizabeth (Quentin Crisp) I where he longs for love and freedom. However, he is cursed to remain at the same age forever. The story then leaps forward across the centuries, about fifty years at a time, showing new aspects of life and attitudes to women - and featuring Orlando at the same age each time.

The scenery is very good, the costumes stunning, and taken as snapshots of society through the ages, it’s quite an interesting production. But as a story, it is strangely surreal to have the same person appearing in different roles, never growing any older, and then making an even more dramatic and unexpected change in Central Asia, part-way through the film.

There are one or two mildly amusing moments, but there is also some violence which did not appeal to me at all. There were also some decidedly ‘adult’ scenes which, I would have thought, should raise the rating to at least 12 rather than the actual PG rating given in the UK (The US rating is PG-13, which I felt more appropriate).

The blurb on the back of the DVD calls 'Orlando' a ‘brilliantly original story of self-discovery, romance and adventure’. That much, I acknowledge, is true. And the movie was very well done. It seems to have won great acclaim from the critics, too… but it didn’t do anything at all for me, other than leave me faintly puzzled.

Not really recommended.

Review copyright Sue's DVD Reviews

21 May 2009

First do no Harm (starring Meryl Streep, Fred Ward and Seth Adkins)

'First Do No Harm' is another film we were given, after a relative found it free in a Saturday paper. I am so glad she did, because this is a wonderful movie, based on a true story. In my opinion it is well worth getting hold of, if at all possible.

It stars Meryl Streep as Lori, a contented, if slightly harassed mother with three children. Out of the blue, the youngest child, Robbie (Seth Adkins), is diagnosed with a serious form of epilepsy. Everything has to go on hold for the family as he goes into hospital for tests, and then undergoes increasingly unpleasant forms of treatment.

The first drugs Robbie is given turn him from a likeable, friendly child into a hyperactive violent screamer. His parents are told that when the first drugs taken do not help the condition, there is increasingly less chance that any future ones will make any difference.

Since this takes place in America, the family get into increasingly difficult financial straits as they have to deal with Robbie’s problems, due to some small print on their medical insurance. They seem to be at the mercy of the doctors, who propose drastic surgery on Robbie’s skull as his seizures increase and his behaviour becomes worse and worse.

Then Lori discovers that an unusual diet has helped a significant number of children with severe epilepsy. The doctors insist that it would not help, and that to take Robbie to a clinic to try it out would threaten his life. So the family have to make some very difficult decisions on his behalf….

I was totally captivated by this DVD, as were the other people who watched it with me. Meryl Streep is always excellent; she is able, it seems, to play almost any role to perfection. Seth Adkins as Robbie was also extremely good and beilevable. It was well-made and interesting as well as somewhat educational, and felt like a story rather than a documentary.

The one single thing that spoiled the film was an appalling and screechy rendition of the song ‘Somewhere over the Rainbow’; not just once but twice in the film. It made us put our hands over our ears and wished we could turn the sound off.

The UK rating for this is PG, which I would suggest is correct; younger children might find some of the medical and violent parts disturbing although others would not be worried by it. The US has a more cautious PG-13 rating.

Despite that one problem, I would recommend this film it highly.

Review copyright Sue's DVD Reviews

20 May 2009

Inside I'm Dancing, aka Rory O'Shea was here (starring James McAvoy and Steven Robertson)

As far as I remember, the film "Inside I'm Dancing" was recommended to me by Amazon, based on items I had already added to my wishlist. Possibly this was a misconception due to the word 'dancing' in the title, something which has now changed - in the USA, at least, the film has been re-titled 'Rory O'Shea was here', and the cover has been given a new, modern look.

When I read the blurb, I wasn't too sure what it would be like. The story features Michael (Steven Robertson), a guy with severe cerebral palsy who lives in a home for the disabled in Ireland. He can’t speak comprehensibly although he’s clearly bright, and gets around by wheelchair.

Then the outspoken and rebellious Rory (James McAvoy) arrives. He also is wheelchair-bound but has no problems talking, and can understand Michael pretty well. They strike up a friendship, and Rory starts to show Michael what life is like outside the home… leading to a bid for independent living.

The story is bittersweet, with some humour as well as a real insight into the lives of the severely disabled. The acting is wonderful. We couldn’t decide whether or not the actor playing Michael really did have cerebral palsy; so we watched the extras, which showed him as a young man with normal movement and speech. What an incredible actor.

Despite my initial reservations, we felt that this film was brilliantly made, and well worth watching. However, I wish there hadn’t been quite so much bad language – although in context it wasn’t inappropriate. But it was enough to give the film a 15 rating in the UK, and R in the US despite there being no violence, nudity or sex (despite some references).

Recommended nonetheless to any older teenager or adult wanting to see a little more of the world from the point of view of someone permanently in a wheelchair.

Review copyright Sue's DVD Reviews

11 May 2009

Mean Girls (starring Lindsay Lohan)

I doubt if I would ever have chosen 'Mean Girls', which is marketed as a teenage film… but my son gave it to me, and said that I would probably like it.

He was correct.

Lindsay Lohan is extremely good as the home educated teenager Cady (pronounced Katie) who grew up in the African bush, but finally starts American high school at the age of sixteen. She finds it bewildering at first, with so many different cliques, but is adopted by two rather strange people… and then finds herself part of the ‘plastics’ set. These are attractive but not particularly intelligent girls who consider themselves to be role models and fashion leaders.

The entire thing was completely alien to me, so I could fully understand Cady's reservations. She begins by laughing at the idiocies of the ‘plastics’ but gradually finds that peer pressure makes its mark, and becomes drawn into their world. Unfortunately this even includes being nasty about some of the other students and teachers.

The plot is a bit bizarre, and I find it hard to believe that any high school could actually be that unpleasant… but Cady’s development as a character works well, and it was encouraging that a popular teen film is (basically) so positive about homeschooling. Cady appears to be the most well-balanced and interesting person in her entire grade, seeing much of the behaviour of her classmates as barely distinguishable from the wild beasts she has come across in Africa. It was a pity that her parents are portrayed as so weird… but then again, they were less so than some of her new friends’ parents.

There were some moments in this film that made us laugh aloud, and we were glad that we saw it - it was very different to the kind of movie I would usually choose. So, all in all, I thought it an enjoyable and well made film... albeit not very deep.

Review copyright Sue's DVD Reviews

30 April 2009

Marvin's Room (starring Meryl Streep, Leonardo DiCaprio and Diane Keaton)

I was going through a phase of wanting to see almost any film with Meryl Streep in it - she is so very good in every role she does. So 'Marvin's Room' went on my wishlist, and one of my relatives kindly bought it for me.

It's the story of two sisters. Bessie (Diane Keaton) is almost too good to be true, caring for her bed-ridden father, and her eccentric Aunt Ruth. Almost, but not quite...

Her sister Lee (Meryl Streep), by contrast, has made her own way in the world as a single mother. She has a rebellious 18-year-old son, and a quieter younger son who is something of a bookworm.

The two sisters have been estranged for nineteen years, but finally get together again when one of them receives bad news.

The production is good, and the acting excellent. Meryl Streep excels herself as Lee, by no means typecast yet totally believable. There are some moments of humour that made us chuckle, and some medical moments that were so realistic, they made us cringe. The family dynamics work well, and it was encouraging to see the potential for healing – no spoiler there; this is part of the blurb on the back of the DVD.

Unfortunately, we thought that the movie ended far too suddenly, leaving far too many threads wide open. It wasn’t a particularly encouraging ending, either, so despite an excellent film so far, it left us with a bit of a bad taste.

Rated 12 in the UK, PG-13 in the USA; this is probably because the subject matter is really unsuited to younger children, plus some fairly minor bad language.

Review copyright Sue's DVD Reviews

27 April 2009

Music of the Heart (starting Meryl Streep)

'Music of the Heart' is one of the many DVDs recommended to me by Amazon, possibly because of others which I had previously rated, or perhaps because I particularly like films starring the brilliantly adaptable Meryl Streep.

They certainly got it right with this particular movie.

'Music of the Heart' is based on a true story. Roberta (played by Meryl Streep) is devastated by her husband’s sudden departure, made all the more difficult because she needs to support her two young sons. She manages to persuade the headmistress of an inner city Harlem school to take her on as an extra music teacher, to teach children to play the violin.

The music teacher is highly cynical and the Head is not sure it’s possible… but Roberta has her own unique style, and over time she works what can only be considered as miracles in the most unlikely of children.

The theme is a bit like that of my all-time favourite film, ‘Mr Holland’s Opus’ and similar stories. It’s heart-warming, very moving in places, and extremely well made. The children are delightful, the sub-plots keep it moving, and the ending truly magnificent, with a text epilogue explaining what happened in reality. Meryl Streep, it need hardly be said, is perfect for the starring role.

Absolutely wonderful. I’m sure I’ll be watching this one again, and I don’t say that very often about any DVD.

Highly recommended.

Rated PG in both the UK and USA, probably because of some mild language and minor suggestions of intimacy. Unfortunately very expensive currently at Amazon UK, but often available used, or at other sites.

Review copyright Sue's DVD Reviews

23 April 2009

A Handful of Dust (starring James Wilby and Kristin Scott Thomas)

'A Handful of Dust' is one of many movies that was given away free in Saturday newspapers, and given to us by a relative. It sat on our shelf for a while, but finally we decided to watch it.

It is based on the book of the same name by Evelyn Waugh. have not read the book – and, having now seen the film, am not remotely inspired to do so.

The story begins by featuring an upper class couple who are reasonably content, living on a huge estate with one young son. Then the bored wife decides to have an affair. Disasters strike, and the action moves to Brazil.

While there is the occasional humorous moment, the general tone of the film is very depressing. I kept hoping it would get better, but it didn’t. I suppose the theme is that each of us is nothing but a handful of dust.

On the plus side, there are some high-profile names in the cast, all of whom played their roles believably and well. There are some attractive settings in the locations. But overall, I thought this film rather miserable, and don’t plan to watch it again.

Not recommended.

Review copyright Sue's DVD Reviews

07 April 2009

About a Boy (starring Hugh Grant and Nicholas Hoult)

'About a Boy' is is based on the novel of the same name by Nick Hornby, which I read about six months ago and enjoyed very much.

Hugh Grant is excellent - as ever - in the starring role as the non-working, rather shallow, but immensely likeable Will. Nicholas Hoult is his 12-year-old co-star, as the all-too-responsible Marcus who is loved but rather neglected by his strangely flaky mother.

Marcus is decidedly uncool and gets bullied at school. Will - who is something of a womaniser - comes into his life after inventing a two-year-old son, a ploy that allows him to meet single mothers...

As with the book, this movie is an interesting mixture of pathos and humour. Near tragedy in places combines with some highly amusing moments. Towards the end, the film did rather veer away from the plot of the book (unless I have entirely forgotten some parts of it, which is entirely possible) but as a story, it works well.

'About a boy' is rather more thought-provoking than a lot of modern films of this genre, and very well done.


Unusually, I even watched the extras that came with the DVD. The deleted scenes gave more that was in the book, although we could see that they were not necessary for the film. The 'making of' was reasonably interesting, but nothing special.

Review copyright Sue's DVD Reviews

19 March 2009

The Princess Diaries (starring Anne Hathaway and Julie Andrews)

I'm not sure why we acquired the Disney movie 'The Princess Diaries'. Probably it was an Amazon recommendation, or perhaps some friends told us we would enjoy it. It sat for some time on our shelves before we decided to spend an evening watching it.

It's fairly typical and somewhat schmaltzy Disney on a Cinderella theme, but very enjoyable nonetheless. The plot is probably well-known: Mia (Anne Hathaway) is a gauche, somewhat clumsy teenage American girl who tries hard to be invisible at school.Then she suddenly learns that her paternal grandmother is Queen of a small European country. Since her father (whom she never knew) recently died, Mia is heir apparent to the throne of this country.

She is appalled at first, but agrees to some ‘princess lessons’ and a makeover, and is gradually transformed... whether for better or worse is open to question.

Julie Andrews is perfect as the royal grandmother, and Anne Hathaway as Mia is excellent too. She manages both the awkward clumsy stage and the increasing elegancy of the transformation with panache. There are some delightful scenes with the two of them together; the chemistry between them is excellent despite the age difference. There are even a few low-key ethical issues such as the shallowness of high school cheerleaders and sports stars, and the need for people to stand up for what they believe in.

I thoroughly enjoyed this film, and my husband did too, rather to his surprise. I particularly appreciated seeing the mature Julie Andrews in her excellent role.

There are a few extras on the DVD; we enjoyed the behind-the-scenes shots and descriptions of how the cast gelled together, and how the film was put together.

Review copyright Sue's DVD Reviews

30 January 2009

My Best Friend's Wedding (starring Julia Roberts and Dermot Mulroney)

Browsing DVDs on Amazon, wanting to add a few to my wishlist for potential Christmas presents, I came across 'My Best Friend's Wedding'. Probably recommended to me because of the genres I tend to like - low-key romantic films with a light, perhaps humorous side - and also the cast.

Sure enough, I enjoyed it very much.

The story features Julianne (Julia Roberts), who has been ‘best friends’ with Michael (Dermot Mulroney) for nine years. She is invited to his wedding... and suddenly realises she’s in love with him. His fiancĂ©e (Cameron Diaz) is bright, enthusiastic, and also very much in love with Michael, but Julianne determines to do all she can to break them up, figuring that all is fair in love, and that Michael and she will never be really happy without each other.

The pace is good, the script well done, although it becomes rather surreal at times. For instance there's a scene almost reminiscent of a 1960s musical when a table full of guests break into song at one point. Or there's the time when Julianne’s gay boss drops everything and flies to her rescue after a frantic phone call. There is even a spoof Bond-style car chase.

But this DVD was exactly what I needed for an evening’s relaxation with my husband. Decidedly a ‘girly’ film, but he liked it too. Julia Roberts is believable, if a little over the top at times, and the outcome was never entirely certain until the end. Recommended.

Rated 12 in the UK, PG-13 in the USA, probably due to one or two instances of bad language, and a little sexual humour.

Review copyright Sue's DVD Reviews

04 January 2009

Calendar Girls (starring Helen Mirren and Julie Walters)

I resisted acquiring or watching 'Calendar Girls' for quite some time. I really did not think that we would be interested in the story – based on a true one – of twelve middle-aged Women's Institute members who posed nude for a calendar.

And yet, several people whose tastes I trusted recommended it highly to me. So eventually I put it on my wishlist, and received it for Christmas.

It’s an absolutely delightful film. The nude posing is very tastefully done, and while the making and selling of the calendar is obviously a significant part of the film, it's only one thread. There are many other sub-plots intertwined, some of them quite moving.

We meet the various characters at the beginning of the film, in particular the feisty Chris (Helen Mirren) and her close friend Annie (Julie Walters). Both are excellent in the roles, as are the fairly large supporting cast. I didn't manage to keep all the women clear in my mind, but it really didn't matter.

There’s some humour in this movie, and there are moments of deep sadness, yet neither extreme is overdone.

All in all, we both thought it a wonderful film, and look forward to seeing it again some day.

Rated PG-13 in the USA, 12 in the UK, probably due to the nudity (albeit tasteful and only top half) and some language.

Review copyright Sue's DVD Reviews