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Ladies in Lavender (2004)

The story of two sisters who saved a stranger, and the stranger who stole their hearts.

Directed by:

Charles Dance

Rating: 7/10

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 they’re 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 it’s 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 it’s 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 wouldn’t be at all surprised.”) and a touching – if slightly iunsatisfying – conclusion.

Unfortunately, I can’t help but feel that its title alone is likely to result in many potential punters giving it a wide berth. Let’s 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 it’s 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 doesn’t exactly make the biggest of impacts, and certainly a film centring on the emotional happenings of a pair of wrinklies won’t 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.


You’re only as old as the person you feel.


  1. Judy
    Posted March 14, 2010 at 6:08 pm | Permalink

    It seems thre is a real lack of respect for older people, thinking they ahve no feelings….sad state of affairs in this country. In stead of looking to the older folds for wisdom, they make them sound like fools. (speaking of the review)

  2. Astute_Arabella
    Posted February 18, 2011 at 2:53 am | Permalink

    The film ‘Ladies in Lavender’ gets its title from the short story it is based on. ‘Ladies in Lavender’ was first published in 1916, by William John Locke as part of a collection of short stories.

    Some more research could have been effective, but otherwise, thank you very much for your well-written and very entertaining review.

  3. David Raglan
    Posted November 13, 2011 at 7:11 pm | Permalink

    This film (alongside of “The Ten COmmandments” and “Titanic” is the most moving film I have ever seen. I love it so much.

  4. Posted November 13, 2011 at 7:13 pm | Permalink

    I love this film. Along with “The Ten Commandments” and “Titanic”, it is the most moving film I have ever seen.

  5. Posted March 18, 2017 at 10:05 am | Permalink

    good post !!!!!! haha !!!!!! yes

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