I’ll admit I had my doubts about this movie. I wasn’t really sure
that I wanted to see a movie about women posing nude (As they say in the movie, “It’s not
naked—it’s nude.”) for a calendar—no matter what their age. But trust
me—there was nothing especially shocking or inappropriate about Calendar Girls.
In fact, it turned out to be a fun movie that women of all ages can find as fortifying
and uplifting as a Wonder Bra.
Helen Mirren stars as Chris, a quirky
middle-aged woman who lives in the British town of Knapely with her husband and son. She
and her best friend, Annie (Julie Walters) belong to the Knapely chapter of the Women’s
Institute (WI), a rather matronly organization where women meet to hear presentations
about things they don’t especially care about.
After Annie’s husband,
John (John Alderton), dies of leukemia, Chris reads a speech that he had wanted to give
to the WI—about sunflowers. Sunflowers, he said, were like the women of Knapely.
Whatever the situation—no matter what time of day it is—they always face the sun. And
though they’re beautiful at all stages of their lives, “the last stage of the flower is
the most glorious.”
Chris then proposes that the members of the WI raise
money for the hospital in John’s name—by doing something different…something
fun…something that will actually raise money. Chris suggests a nude calendar—starring
the women of the WI.
Gradually, the women of the WI begin to warm up to
the idea—even the church organist. And they fight to finish the project, despite the
disapproval of their chapter’s leader and the mixed response of their husbands and
There’s a word that I reserve for films like this one. It’s a
word that I rarely use, but it fits so perfectly with this kind of movie.
Delightful—that’s the only word to describe this movie. It’s hilarious and
inspiring at the same time. And it’s refreshing to see such a delightful movie starring
older women that Hollywood would have put out to pasture long ago. I commend the
real calendar girls (many of whom appear in the movie) for being proud of who they
are, and I commend the filmmakers and actresses who made the movie—because it’s a story
that needed to be told.
Pick up a copy of Calendar Girls, and watch
it with your mother…your sister…your daughter…your best friend—with all of the beautiful
sunflowers in your life.