The Mummy Reviews
As attentive masochists will know, I try to make this column a broad church encompassing all types and forms of cinema. It would also be remiss of me to completely ignore a film which has won both critical and popular acclaim simply because I would rather have a full Brazilian than go to see it. And, I feel like a week off. So, bearing all these things in mind, I thought it would make a nice break for everyone if I stepped back and let somebody else have a go at
writing the column for a change. Without further ado, let's hear a big round of applause for this week's very special guest reviewer...
Hello everyone, I'm Awix's mum. I normally go to the pictures to see comedies and adaptations of classic books, or anything else with Viggo Mortensen in it1. I was rather perturbed when my son asked me to write this review of Nigel Cole's Calendar Girls for him, but he explained that I was by far the best-equipped person available for the job, as a) I used to
be in WI, b) I've read the book this is based on, and c) he'd no intention of going anywhere near the film and was planning on seeing The Italian Job instead.
The two main characters are Chris Harper (Helen Mirren, cast sort-of against type) and Annie Clarke (Julie Walters, ditto), great friends and members of their Women's Institute in the Yorkshire Dales. At the beginning of the film Annie's husband (John Alderton) is ill with
leukaemia and eventually dies in the local hospital. Every year the WI has produced a calendar to raise money for a charity, usually depicting bridges in the Dales and, most recently, churches. Chris has an idea to make a calendar showing members posing nude, with the usual items associated with the WI protecting their modesty. The film shows how they went about finding the right photographer, sponsorship for the printing and how the calendar became such a success. Money raised from the calendar was to provide a much-needed comfortable sofa for the relatives' room in the hospital.
There is a mixture of emotion within the film combining the sadness of the sudden death of Annie's husband with the hilarity that ensues, with all the women entering into the spirit of the poses. Helen Mirren and Julie Walters give very good performances, ably supported by Celia Imrie, Annette Crosbie, Penelope Wilton and Geraldine James, and there is a great feeling of camaraderie between all the main characters involved in the calendar. There are some differences between the book and the film but in no way do they affect the overall quality of the story.
My enjoyment of the film was greatly enhanced by its setting in Wharfedale. I have been on holiday for many years in that area and in fact met my husband outside the pub in Kettlewell! The scenery was wonderful and made us want go back again for a holiday2. During my time with the WI I have sat through meetings with similar topics on the programme and I have to confess that I too nodded off during one particular talk about four-mile-an-hour canal boats. I would imagine all WI groups have a fund raising event for charity and maybe the calendar girls hope to change people's ideas about them that they are not 'twin-set and pearls' or 'jam and
Jerusalem' but also providing for the needs in the community.
Calendar Girls is a film that provides a feel-good factor, in that there is friendship, fun, laughter, and a sense of community spirit, when most of what we see on TV or read in the papers is about people's inhumanity to each other. I have seen it twice and thoroughly enjoyed it both times.