Calendar Girls on DVD
Given the excellence of such recent British offerings as The Full Monty
and Waking Ned Devine, we expected Calendar Girls to be pretty good.
It wasnt. It was exquisite.
Calendar Girls truly takes you on an emotional journey in which at one point
youre laughing out loud, and a few minutes later your eyes are welling
up with tears, then shortly after that you're laughing again. Its more
than a comedy, more than a drama and best of all its a true story.
That story, for those whove been living under a rock, is about a group
of Yorkshire housewives who bare their souls and their bodies to create a Womens
Institute charity calendar so they can raise money for leukemia research. Its
a look into the lives of some very real women, with real hopes and dreams, and
problems as well as a fascinating look at these ladies' trip through
Andy Warhols infamous 15 minutes of fame.
Helen Mirren stars with Julie Walters and a supporting cast of excellent, though
not well known in North America, actors. Mirren is Chris, a bored housewife
who always seems to have great ideas, though they generally blow up in her face.
Walters is Annie, whose beloved husband begins his losing battle with leukemia
early in the film and becomes the inspiration for the calendar stunt. Both of
these actresses are outstanding in their roles, though the cast is so good uniformly
that Mirren and Walters dont overshadow them.
The plan is for these middle aged (but at their most glorious) women to pose
nude for a calendar hoping that the girly (womanly?) pictures
will prove more profitable than the boring landscapes they usually inflict on
the public. And of course theyre successful: their calendar sparks interest
on both sides of the Atlantic (at least) and ends up raising hundreds of thousands
of dollars for leukemia, as well as buying the sofa for the local hospital that
was their initial modest goal.
And the movie shows us all of this, but theres so much more to it as
well, from the soul searching before the decision to pose to the angst of the
Womens Institute powers that be who are afraid of being embarrassed, to the
reactions of friends and family members to the event, to the humorous embarrassment
of the actual photo shoot.
Calendar Girls is a funny and moving story, and it deals with such big issues
such as friendship, loss, the perils of fame, and the consequences of ones
actions. Its a special movie that cries out to be seen and enjoyed by
all who value a good story well written, acted, and directed.
Its also an excellent DVD. The picture, which is presented in anamorphic
widescreen (16x9 TV compatible), is first rate. The image is overall a tad soft,
but this is more due to the cinematography than a flaw in the digital disc and
because of that the softness works to the DVDs advantage. Its kind
of a look at life through rose colored glasses even some painful and
comparatively ugly parts of life. Colors are rich and deep and textured and
the overall result is as artistic as the calendar photos of which the movie
makes so much.
Audio is Dolby Digital 5.1 surround and it is reference quality. There isnt
a lot of rear channel use, but the overall separation is superb and the music
and dialogue are always balanced beautifully. You hear everything, the way it
should be heard.
We were also particularly thrilled with the extras, not because there are so
many of them but because they gave us a chance to meet some of the real women
whose stories are told in the movie, thanks to a couple of short documentaries
in the extras section. Theres also a selection of deleted
Is this a perfect movie? Who knows? But it probably comes as close to being
the perfect movie as anything else weve seen recently and weve
seen a lot of flicks!
Calendar Girls, from Touchstone Home Entertainment
108 min. anamorphic widescreen (2.35:1, 16x9 TV compatible), Dolby Digital 5.1
Starring Helen Mirren, Julie Walters
Produced by Nick Barton, Suzanne Mackie
Written by Tim Firth and Juliette Towhidi, directed by Nigel Cole
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