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LADIES IN LAVENDER

Ladies in Lavender is a ladylike, lavender kind of movie. Making his directorial debut, actor Charles Dance adapts William J. Lockeís short story of the same title (which itself seems to echo Joseph Conradís far darker "Amy Foster"), a slight idyll about two elderly sisters, Ursula (Judi Dench) and Janet (Maggie Smith), who find a young man (Daniel Brühl) half drowned on the beach by their house on the Cornwall coast. They tote him into the cottage for cups of tea and mild, tasteful intrigue. He canít speak a word of English, but the way Ursula stares at him like a moonstruck heifer makes it clear he doesnít need to, and it almost seems unfair when he picks up a violin and summons up a Bach Partita to die for. Oh, and World War II is starting up, or at least that seems to be gist of the occasional broadcasts sputtered on the wireless, and Olga (Natascha McElhone), a mysterious Russian visitor, has taken an interest in the newcomer. So it appears Ursulaís hopeless crush might be spirited away, and Poland might be invaded, too. David Warner puts in a dyspeptic performance as the horny local doctor; otherwise this exercise in scenery and music is as innocuous as a nosegay. (104 minutes)

BY PETER KEOUGH

Issue Date: May 27 - June 2, 2005
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