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12 Calendar Girls (2003)
Reviewed by Neil Smith
updated 2nd September 2003

reviewer's rating
four star


Nigel Cole

Juliette Towhidi
Tim Firth

Helen Mirren
Julie Walters
Annette Crosbie
Celia Imrie
Penelope Wilton

108 minutes

Buena Vista

5th September 2003


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Julie Walters interview

Helen Mirren interview

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Such is our craving for homegrown success that any half-decent British movie released since 1997 has immediately been dubbed "The next "Full Monty"".

For once, though, "Calendar Girls" - inspired by the true story of the Yorkshire housewives who posed nude for an alternative Women's Institute calendar - lives up to that description.

Not only does Nigel Cole's film emulate "Monty" by having a group of unlikely people taking their clothes off. It also boasts the same winning blend of earthy humour and familiar faces behaving disgracefully.

Helen Mirren and Julie Walters star as Chris and Annie, two bored WI members spurred into action when the latter's husband (John Alderton) dies of leukaemia.

To raise money for the hospital where he was treated, the women persuade their pals to strip for a saucy charity calendar. Though initially reluctant ("No front bottoms!" begs one), the ladies agree, unwittingly creating an international phenomenon which plunges them into the media spotlight.

Scriptwriters Juliette Towhidi and Tim Firth have fun milking the genial bemusement of the women's husbands, the embarrassment of Chris's teenage son, and the horrified outrage of the WI council, represented by a prim Geraldine James.

Only in the later stages, which find Chris, Annie et al whisked off to Hollywood, does Cole lose his footing in his earnest attempts to wring pathos from his featherlight story.

For the most part, though, "Calendar Girls" is a delight, full of great one-liners, quirky character-based comedy, and two excellent lead performances from Mirren and Walters.

"Calendar Girls" is out now in London and released nationwide on the 12th September 2003.

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