The Rylstone and District WI branch posed naked for their annual calendar to raise funds in memory of a husband killed by cancer. Their story has now become Calendar Girls.
(Edited highlights of the panel's review taken from the teletext subtitles that are generated live for Newsnight Review.)
first view comes from the man so many
literary women are desperate to see in a
nude calendar, Tom Paulin. What did you
make of it?
I was very touched by it, very moved by it,
I had tears in my eyes. I thought it was
wonderful. Visionary English film, the
singing of Jerusalem, you know, sort of the
sense of the nation. It was very touching.
Julie Walters and Helen Mirren just
marvellous together. Keron Heinz terrific
in it. But the one scene missing which
stopped Julie Walters from inflicting her
grief early on, which she does much later
in the film, I just felt that was missing. So
she was just too competent throughout, I
Rachel Holmes everyone has said, the
female Full Monty because of the nudity
connection. In fact as Tom suggests, almost
no politics at all in this at all. A woman is
widowed, we have no idea about her
economic circumstances. It's just assumed
all these people have money, not very like
the Full Monty in that respect, but does it
work in the same way?
There's one central political event. That is
the calendar itself. And, I have to say
respect to every single one of these
actresses who did this, they look fabulous.
And the politics of it, yes, it's very
straightforward, it's very simple, it resexualises middle-aged
women and it also gives to middle-aged men license
to say their wives and middle-aged
women are adorable as well. So I think it's
easy to say because it has this
rather shot-through stocking, saccharin,
Yorkshire that doesn't exist kind of
context, yes, that is the context of the
romantic comedy. But nevertheless, I think
we need to be very careful not to
underestimate the force of the kind of body
fascism around women's appearance, that
this is actually talking back to. And that's
good enough for me.
I agree with
both you guys, in a kinda way the
Americans tend to do this very well. And I
found this film pushed all my emotional
buttons. You know, I was crying, like you,
Tom. I was going, oh, man! And most of
all, I think the women were fine. I was like,
damn! You know I think they did do that
very well. I adored this film. I think it was
very difficult. The only part I didn't
necessarily love as much was the end. But
I think it's very difficult with a real life
story to kind of give it a kind of end that is
Maybe the Hollywood bit was tacked on
and not followed up.
felt, Rachel, that there's about enough plot
for a fantastic 40-minute film. Then they
have to find another 60 from somewhere.
There isn't exactly enough to spin it out, is
I think there is enough to spin it out. It's
actually, because its based on a true story.
We all know how difficult it is when you
translate something that's a true story into
film, into fiction. It's actually an extremely
good true story that goes the whole way
through. They did go to America. It is a
transatlantic story. The calendar sold more
than three times as much in America as it
did in Britain. So I think there is enough
there for the whole narrative. I do feel that
once it gets to Hollywood, it does lose its
focus because it switches. It becomes a
third-act switch which is more about what
is the impact of celebrity and actually that
isn't terribly convincing. They have to in-
fill something in reality that didn't happen,
which is the two women who are the
closest friends fell out. They didn't.
There's this bit that goes totally off
in the middle where there's a very long
sequence which is an advert for Virgin
Atlantic where they go to America which I
thought was astonishing. Then as Rachel
says, it goes to the second half where it
becomes a very different film.
Yes, but you know in a kind of way, you
could see that the screen writers did
exactly that, they kinda went, OK, we have
have got story, as you said, for this much. And
in fact now we have to invent and create
different narratives in order to make this a
satisfying movie. And yes, you know,
when it gets to the American thing, you do
kinda go, oh, umm, I'm not really sure.
You also have to remember that the whole
thing is a very extended animated
displacement activity to try and take one
woman's mind off her grief.
But I didn't think that worked terribly
successfully in the film. I think by the
time, and I think you said this Tom, that by
the time I got to seeing how Julie Walters
was dealing with her grief, I kind of felt
like I was a bit more interested in the
Helen Mirren character.
But there's one moment she does break
down but it's late on in the film. You
wanted something earlier. On the other
hand, It was a kind of tact. I think the
Hollywood thing, in a way you think this
belongs to the genre of heritage post-
modernism. So it's OK because it's
celebrity and it's daft.