Reviewer's Rating 3 out of 5  
Mrs Henderson Presents (2005)
12aContains moderate sex references and one use of strong language

Something wicked this way comes in Stephen Frears' musical-drama Mrs Henderson Presents. Amazingly it's Dame Judi Dench, who delivers a captivating performance as an upper class widow who buys a dilapidated Soho theatre and turns it into a nude revue which never closes during the Second World War. It's impossible not to warm to the movie, which combines a quirky showbiz tale with stiff upper lips in war-torn London.

Recently widowed toff Laura Henderson (Dench) is in need of a hobby. Never afraid to speak her mischievous mind, she soon finds the perfect endeavour for her energies: renovating Soho's Windmill Theatre into a round-the-clock revuedeville. She recruits little-known showbiz impresario Vivian Van Damm (Bob Hoskins) to turn the theatre round. Next they have to find a new way to one-up rival theatres, and discover it in the form of naked statuesque women. However, battles with the prudish Lord Chancellor (Christopher Guest) are soon superseded by an even bigger conflict: World War II.

"DENCH AND HOSKINS LEAP OFF THE SCREEN"

It's a joy to see Dench play someone with a real sparkle in her eye, and the interchanges between her and Hoskins really leap off the screen - indeed, the movie works best when dealing with their will-they-won't-they relationship (it's based on a true story). It's less convincing when dealing with the broader canvas of the war effort (one sub-plot about a performer and young soldier bound for the front feels particulary awkward). Despite all the on-stage nudity, Mrs Henderson Presents really is good clean fun.

End Credits

Director: Stephen Frears

Writer: Martin Sherman

Stars: Judi Dench, Bob Hoskins, Kelly Reilly, Thelma Barlow, Will Young, Christopher Guest

Genre: Drama

Length: 102 minutes

Cinema: 25 November 2005

Country: USA

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