Calendar Girls (UK, 2003)
Directed by Nigel Cole
Starring Helen Mirren, Julie Walters, Celia Imrie, Linda Bassett
As I write these words, the stage version of Calendar Girls is being performed by hundreds of theatre groups up and down the country. The release of the rights to amateur groups over an 18-month period has already raised enormous amounts of money for charities seeking to provide support for those affected by cancer, and fund research into beating it. With the play's popularity at an all-time high, now is as good a time as any to revisit the film on which it was based. Ten years on, Nigel Cole's retelling of an incredible true story still holds up pretty well, being slight and a little creaky, but still charming in spite of its flaws.
Heathers or Dr. Strangelove, the comedy is often taken to such daring extremes that any small feeling of sadness is commuted to a deeper or larger feeling, such as abandonment or despair. In Dr. Strangelove you weep for the whole or humanity, while laughing at the absurdity of existence. In Calendar Girls the grief is far smaller and more personal, with all the sad moments being well-judged and touchingly executed.