The story of two sisters who saved a stranger, and the stranger who stole their hearts.
Running Time: 103 minutes
UK Certificate: 12a
Country: United Kingdom
Cornwall, 1936, and doddery old biddies Ursula and Janet (Judi Dench and Maggie Smith) face a dilemma. A storm has washed a young Polish gentleman (Daniel Bruhl) up onto the pebbled beach by their home, and theyre forced to make a choice – a choice between their Christian obligation to help a man in need, and their natural deep-rooted dislike of foreigners.
Of course, being the kindly old bats that they are, they take him in, nurse him back to health, and – despite the obvious communication difficulties (maybe they should try SHOUTING AT HIM) become close friends. Too close, in fact, as its not long before Ursula goes all Harold and Maude on us and finds herself falling for him. In fact, she starts to become a little reminiscent of those two crones who used to shriek young man! in the old Harry Enfield sketch, at one point even telling pal Janet I saw him first. Unsurprisingly though, her 20-something love interest prefers having a crack at local hottie Olga (Natascha McElhone), and its not long before poor old Ursula finds out and starts getting her bloomers in a twist.
This directorial debut from Charles Dance has a lot of charm, and features spotless performances from lead players Dench, Smith, McElhone and Bruhl. It also boasts some marvellous dialogue (Janet: I dislike that woman intensely; Ursulla: Is she German?; Janet: I wouldnt be at all surprised.) and a touching if slightly iunsatisfying – conclusion.
Unfortunately, I cant help but feel that its title alone is likely to result in many potential punters giving it a wide berth. Lets face it, Ladies in Lavender is an appalling name for the film, not just because it bears little relevance to the plot, but because all it conjures up is images of grannies slurping down tea and gossiping about what happened to Mrs Scoggins cat. Fair enough, there is actually quite a bit of tea-drinking going on in this movie, but its hardly a selling point.
However, those of you who do take a chance on this quiet, thoughtful piece of cinema are unlikely to be disappointed. It doesnt exactly make the biggest of impacts, and certainly a film centring on the emotional happenings of a pair of wrinklies wont be the most attractive proposition for most movie-goers, but as a first-time effort from Dance it can only be seen as a success.
It's Got: Flowery dresses, knitting, and cups of tea.
It Needs: A bus pass, walking stick, and a set of falsers.
Youre only as old as the person you feel.