I can’t even tell you how I got round to watching Calendar Girls, but I regret not watching it sooner. Pride and an inflated ego stopped me from watching one of the most charming, well-acted and heart-warming British films I have ever seen. I own Notting Hill for crying out loud but I never gave this much superior film the time of day. Shame on me.
Maybe one of the reasons why it took me so long to watch Calendar Girls is because I considered the film to be ‘too white’ and It is exactly that – I only saw one black face which funnily enough was the daughter of one of the Calendar women. There are themes and ideas in this film that transcend race and class and all that – family, love friendship, death and of course, sex, being key among them. What surprised me most, though, is the sophisticated way this film chooses to depict the said themes and how three dimensional all the characters are, even the smaller roles – this is not a simple film by any means.
Take Penelope Wilton’s character for example (known as Lady Crawley to most of us) – Ruth at first is a shy, very self-conscious about her body and mentally downtrodden thanks to her struggling marriage. She uses the calendar as a way to rekindle her husband’s interest in her but it doesn’t have the desired effect. Instead of the experience being the end of her, it transforms her into a white English Aretha Franklin-esc character full of self worth. I am doing her metamorphosis in the film a disservice but let me say that it takes a hell of an actress to pull the range of emotions Wilton displays in this film.
Wilton isn’t even the half of it – the whole damn cast is fantastic. This whole film could have been cringe worthy throughout, and I expected it be, but it wasn’t. It was funny – consistently funny and a lot of credit has to go to Mirren and Walters but, as I said, everyone plays their part. One thing though, where the hell was Dame Judi Dench?