Movie Review: Calendar Girls


Calendar Girls is a film from 2003 that was directed by Nigel Cole, produced by Buena Vista and Touchstone Pictures. It is based on the true story of a bunch of Yorkshire ladies who decide to do a nude photoshoot for a calendar to raise funds for Leukemia. It stars Helen Mirren. Although it was based on a true story, I will be reviewing this movie as a film on its own merits, only drawing on reality in one particular scene.

The plot is very simple but humorous. The story centers around the fact that Chris (Helen Mirren’s character) decides to do a nude photoshoot with some old ladies after one of their friends dies from Leukemia. If I were to play the devil’s advocate here, I would say that many of the plot points are actually pointless. One such plot thread is that Chris becomes a bit overzealous with the fame that she was receiving, neglecting her son, husband and friends while she celebrates the glory that is her, leading to Chris to have a mild argument with Annie, another main character.

It creates unnecessary tension between the characters and is an age-old cliche. I was able to predict this event  exactly when Chris managed to get many sales of the calendar. Even the real person the story is based on, Tricia Stewart, has said that there were no such tensions in their real-life counterpart.

There is also an unresolved plot line which was the relationship between Mirren’s character and her son. They seemed to establish a subplot involving him as he smokes oregano (thinking it was weed), drinks and is unhappy with his mother. They did not really seem to patch it up between them which is either to create an ambiguous relationship with the two characters allowing people to figure it out on their own or it is just lazy writing.

However, I cannot complain about the amount of subplots as it would make the movie extremely short should they be removed.

Cliches are also ever present in this film. The unnecessary tension as stated above, the head of  WI not approving (Yes, the crummy white piece of authority not supporting an unorthodox cause. How original!) and the speech that follows. It Reminded me of Patch Adams, I may review that sinful movie in the future.

However, I liked the movie. Helen Mirren’s character, before the unnecessary fame high, was a very likable character. Helen Mirren is very well capable of pulling such a role in such a casual fashion. You do not see her as Helen Mirren, you see her as Chris, a British lady looking for some fun. Unlike certain other actors (Nicholas Cage, I am looking at you).

The head of the Local WI was a very fun to dislike character. My dislike for her character shows that she succeeded in her role as the pseudo-antagonist. She decides to pass off the idea as her own when it was successful while trying to stop it when it was considered unorthodox, making her a really bitchy character.

I really liked the concept of the film as it was a bit unorthodox in its premise and I was rather impressed by the female cast. It also teaches people very important morals. Even in the withering of age, one can find beauty. It teaches, through a redundant plot thread, to not let fame get ahead of your friends and family. The movie also teaches people to follow through with things that you want to do even if people do not approve of it first (Good things, okay? Do not have a YOLO attitude, be smart).

When I initially watched this movie, I expected a run-of-the-mill film about some elderly British women doing something silly and hilarity ensues. I was definitely proven wrong. The characters are extremely likable, the plot is funny and interesting despite its minor flaws (I tend to nitpick) and the message of the movie is quite interesting.

It is a must watch.
Plot: 7/10

Characters: 9/10

General enjoyability: 8/10