Film review: Calendar Girls (2003), directed by Nigel Cole
When your husband dies of leukaemia and you want to do some fundraising for leukaemia research, there are a few things you can do together with your friends from the Women’s Institute. You could have a bake sale, for instance, or maybe … maybe you could pose for a calendar. Maybe you could even decide to take your clothes off on the pictures, even if you’re in your fifties …
This is exactly what a group of WI friends in Yorkshire decide to do when Annie’s (Julie Walters) husband dies. Best friend Chris (Helen Mirren) comes up with the idea, and off they go, quickly dragging a few more friends into the plot (Linda Bassett, Annette Crosbie, Celia Imrie, Geraldine James, and Penelope Wilton of Downton Abbey). They get a local photographer (Philip Glenister) to take the pictures. We also see Ciarán Hinds as Chris’s husband.
What none of them realised was that their local fundraising endeavour would have such far-reaching consequences …
If Calendar Girls sounds too incredible to be true, you’d be wrong. While the accounts are fictionalised, the film is actually inspired by real events. When the DVD was put together, over half a million pounds had already been collected for charity, and the local hospital got a new leukaemia ward! Since then, I believe the total, as far as I can tell, has been “nearly £2 million”, but this might have been broken since that figure was reported. I think it’s a great thing to do for charity, and I believe a lot of others have tried copying the format since.
This is a film with top notch actors all around, and I can’t fault any of them. It’s a film about friendship, family and self-confidence and triumph in the face of despair. It’s uplifting and makes you feel good, and all the while, it’s also very entertaining. While Chris is a very dominating character and the only others you really get much out of are the self-conscious Ruth (Wilton) and Annie, it’s an ensemble piece none the less. It’s very human, and you really feel for these people. And the film ain’t half bad either! 😉
4 out of 5 sunflowers.
If you wish to contribute to the charity in question, visit Leukaemia and Lymphoma Research.