I love stories like this. Older women trying something that’s considered scandalous or distasteful for their age. I think films and TV like this are so empowering because it really embodies the perfect message: older women are still vibrant and shouldn’t be relocated to old lady things. Calendar Girls also pushes body positivity, which is very refreshing to see. And on top of all that, while yes other films have done it better, this film tells a charming story about female friendship. That’s another one of my favorite things to see depicted onscreen, female friendship… as long as it’s done well of course.
The women that are placed front and center here are very likable, which is good because the vast majority of the film depends on them. Mirren and Waters have a very natural chemistry as old friends and they’re nice to watch. While they are the main characters, the other women are just as important to the story and the overall feel. The film is definitely at its best when all of them are together. Penelope Wilton and Celia Imrie are the best out of the supporting characters in my opinion. Wilton presents herself are rather timid and shy at first, and is also in a marriage that isn’t quite going her way. But as the film progresses we get to see more of her as a character, and that’s wonderful because once she fully embraces herself, she becomes this fierce lovable woman. Celia is one of the most memorable character for me because while she is also shy, when it comes time to do the nude photoshoot, she is just adorable. She is a naturally likeable character due to her personality and energy.
The scenes where the women are having the photoshoot are the best because not only is there good humor but that’s where we see these ladies true character. I had a fair number of good laughs during that section of the film along with a handful scattered throughout. When the comedy does come along, for the most part it’s quality, if I’m being honest though I do wish it was more consistent. I was a little bit surprised there weren’t more laughs. Now there is some drama mixed in here, and not just with the ladies. The main source of drama surrounds Julie Walter’s character’s husband passing away from leukemia in the beginning. That is actually the catalyst for the women publishing the nude calendar. While I like the idea of them doing this in memory of their friends late husband and doing it to raise money for others in the same situation, it’s largely lost until the end.
What do I mean by that? In the beginning that is focused on, but very briefly, then the next like hour and a half is all about the ladies making the calendar and their friendships. Because of the loss of focus on that, you kind of forget until it’s brought up again at the end. So while I like that something like that was the inspiration for the whole idea, it gets lost in everything and doesn’t really feel that impactful. Another reason for it not being that impactful is that we don’t really get to know Walter’s husband, that part is breezed by so quickly that he’s not that memorable. I preferred getting to know these women and focusing on them so I wasn’t really upset about the loss of focus on her husband but it does feel odd when it brought back up at the end.
Calendar Girls is, for the most part, a delightful dramedy. The cast of women do a great job and they have good chemistry together. My complaints are the deficiency in laughs and the main dramatic point getting lost.
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