Review by: Katherine Kaminsky | Rating:
DVD SPECIAL FEATURES: Deleted scenes; The Naked Truth; Creating
THIS true story was always going to be a winner. After much interest
in the film rights from several different companies, they eventually
went to Harbour Pictures (Saving Grace) and what a fantastic job
they have done.
A bunch of Yorkshire lasses, who are members of the W.I. (Women's
Institute), decide to do a naked calendar to raise money.
Chris (Helen Mirren) is determined to help her best friend, Annie
(Julie Walters), through the worst moment of her life, when Annie's
husband, John (John Alderton), dies of cancer.
Chris comes up with an idea. Do a W.I. calendar, naked, to raise
money for the local hospital.
Having convinced other W.I. members that their months will be
tasteful and in keeping with a W.I. theme, they set to work to
find the right photographer.
Their best intentions are soon overshadowed by raised eyebrows
from further afield, however, and before too long, the national
press gets involved and the story makes the six o'clock news.
With the calendar being an overwhelming success, six of the women
are then whisked off to Hollywood, along with their sub-plots,
to be interviewed by Jay Leno.
Walters and Mirren carry the film and, along with the all-star
female cast, make it happen.
Also worth mentioning are John Alderton, who makes you care in
the first place, and Philip Glenister, who is great fun as the
artistically enthused photographer.
Ciaran Hinds, who is everywhere right now, and deservedly so,
is touching as Chris' husband, Rod, who unwittingly reveals his
feelings about the calendar to a tabloid journalist, while struggling
to protect their son from the media circus.
Shot on location in the stunning Yorkshire countryside, this
is a romp of a film.
It is great fun to watch, whether you are a member of the W.I.
or not, and athough the meetings are scarily realistic, the over-used
reprise of Jerusalem could have been modified.
If you have followed the story of the Rylstone 11, you will know
that half of the women involved no longer speak to the other half,
allegedly provoked by the prospect of a film being made about
It is well worth seeing for the sheer inspiration of these brave
woman, proudly turning a tragedy around with their phenomenal
story and using the sunflower as a positive symbol. Instead of
causing more rifts, lets hope the film helps to heal old wounds.