Calendar Girls (2003) starring Helen Mirren, Julie Walters, John Alderton, Linda Bassett, Annette Crosbie, Philip Glenister, Ciarn Hinds, Celia Imrie, Geraldine James, Penelope Wilton, George Costigan directed by Nigel Cole Movie Review

Calendar Girls (2003)   3/53/53/53/53/5

Annette Crosbie, Helen Mirren and Julie Walters in Calendar Girls

Beauty is Ageless

"Calendar Girls" is loosely based on the true story about the ladies of the Rylestone WI, who back in 1999 set about creating their infamous charity calendar. I say loosely, as with any true story, there is always a certain amount of poetic license used to make the real story into something entertaining. In the case of the "Calendar Girls", the use of poetic license is more than justified, as it helps to make this movie a warm and amusing tale. What is really enjoyable about "Calendar Girls", and true stories in general, is that the plot is on the whole original and unique, which makes a change from the formula driven movies which are the mainstay of the movie industry.

In the sleepy Yorkshire town of Rylestone, not a lot happens; each week the women venture down to the local church hall for the regular WI meetings, where they learn about Arts and Crafts and Broccoli. When the husband of Annie (Julie Walters - Mamma Mia!), one of the WI members, dies from Leukaemia, her best friend Chris (Helen Mirren - National Treasure: Book of Secrets) comes up with a plan to raise funds for the local hospital, which treated him, by having the women of the WI appear in an arty, nude calendar. After much cajoling, they manage to convince enough members of the WI to join in, and after a bit of opposition from the WI's president, the calendar gets the go ahead and is created.

Helen Mirren as Chris in Calendar Girls

"Calendar Girls" is a whole mixture of genres with the emphasis being on the subtle comedy, but included in this, you have plenty of drama and a nice touch of sentiment. A lot of the comedy comes from the actual photo shoots, but there are some lovely comedy scenes through out the movie, such as when Chris is demonstrating how they are going to pose for the shots with out showing too much, when her son and his friend walks in and sees her topless. Although at times the sentiment does seem to cloud the actual story, "Calendar Girls" would not be as enjoyable without it.

"Calendar Girls" basically has two lead characters, Annie and Chris. Annie Clarke is played Julie Walters and her best friend, Chris Harper, is played by Helen Mirren. I mention them both in the same sentence as there is no separating them. The story is built around their characters and it is down to the on screen rapport between Mirren and Walters that "Calendar Girls" is so good. The rest of the cast reads like a who's who of British TV with appearances from Annette Crosbie, Penelope Wilton, Geraldine James and John Alderton amongst others.

"Calendar Girls" is directed by Nigel Cole and in general he has done a very good job of making this movie. He has managed to make it enjoyable and fun but without loosing the emotion behind the story. If I was going to pick a fault is that at times the film seemed to loose its pace and became a little boring due to it, but this is just one criticism of an all round enjoyable movie.

What this all boils down to is that "Calendar Girls" is an enjoyable fun comedy which tells a beautiful true story. The only thing which lets this film down is the sometimes very slow pace, but other than that, this film is full of subtle humour, wonderful performances and honest sentiment. This will appeal to anyone who likes gentle films with a light-hearted sense of fun to them.