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CALENDAR GIRLS

Nigel Cole (Saving Grace) may have been trying for the next Full Monty in this inspired-by-a-true-story romp, but what should have been a savory comedy ends up mired in treacle. Helen Mirren and Julie Walters (both excellent) are Chris and Annie, Yorkshire housewives bored with lectures about needlepoint at their local Womenís Institute chapter. After Annieís husband (John Alderton, captivating in his brief time on screen) dies from leukemia, the two suggest that the annual WI calendar be photographed in the buff to raise money for the hospitalís cancer ward. Some members are scandalized, some are intrigued; the ensuing photo shoot depicting handicrafts (baking, painting, cider pressing) is touching and engagingly goofy. The women are catapulted into the media spotlight after the calendarís popularity exceeds all expectations. But when the "girls" are invited to Hollywood, an unlikely pathos-tinged story line erupts, revealing shaky marriages and rivalries between old friends. Still, this well-acted film deserves audiences for one excellent reason. The cinematic depiction of the mature, imperfect female nude is usually seen as lurid (David Lynch) or grotesque (Peter Greenaway); here, it is triumphant and damned sexy. Forget crumpets; think petits fours. (108 minutes)


Issue Date: December 19 - 25, 2003
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