"Full of delightful moments that throw into high relief the actors' craft."
Jay Weissberg VARIETY
"There is nothing like a couple of dames: especially when the ladies in question happen to be the divine Dame Judi Dench and Dame Maggie Smith."
Michael Rechtshaffen HOLLYWOOD REPORTER
"The real star is the music (Joshua Bell’s maturing brilliance is a pleasure in every bar) with its power, to wash away anger, intolerance and sooth unrequited love."
James Wegg JWR
"Luckily for the rather slight story, [Dance] has recruited two of the most effortlessly brilliant grande dames of British film, Judi Dench and Maggie Smith."
"The movie, Charles Dance's directorial debut, does make for a perfectly cosy couple of hours. It's as pleasantly innocuous as a warm afternoon spent rockpooling, and will go down a treat with fans of Enchanted April and Tea With Mussolini."
"Phenomenally acted, exquisitely scored, and ultimately moving."
Ali Catterall BBC
"It is no more than a warm cup of tea on a chilly afternoon. The reward comes in seeing these two great actresses at work."
Rene Rodriguez MIAMI HERALD
"Stunning acting by the Dames in this drama which, despite its terrible title, has genuinely moving moments."
Kirsten Heysen THE SUNDAY MAIL
"At the very least, it’s more sensitive than more Lucky Charmed productions of its kind like Waking Ned Devine and Calendar Girls"
"Dance's script and direction never leads us to the emotional crescendo to which we aspire; however, Dench and Smith deliver beautifully as expected."
The Inside Story
While "Ladies in Lavender" may not appeal to the vast majority of younger viewers who attend the cinema, it will make its mark with those older, mature aged cinemagoers who have grown to appreciate fine performances and who will relish the opportunity to see two of Britians finest actresses, Dame Judi Dench & Dame Maggie Smith, appearing together in the big screen version based on the William J Locke short story "Ladies in Lavender". The film marks a milestone for celebrated British actor Charles Dance who makes his film 'debut' on three fronts; Director, Scriptwriter and as Executive Producer. For many Australians the face of Charles Dance, who has appeared in stage, screen and television productions, is a familiar one. He was last seen on screen in the very sexy "Swimming Pool" which co-starred Charlotte Rampling and Ludivine Sagnier. Prior to that Dance was seen in the film "Black and White" the true story of Max Stuart, an illiterate aboriginal, who was sentenced to hang for the murder of a nine year old girl at Ceduna on South Australia's west coast. Dance delivered a powerful performance as the SA Crown Solicitor Robert Chamberlain. Besides the fact that Dance has a big hand in the film and that the film features two great 'dames', there are a couple of other good reasons to see "Ladies in Lavender". The first is the beautiful location in which the story is set. For those wondering, it is the stunningly wild areas of St Ives, Helston and close to Cornwall’s famed Lizard Peninsula around England’s most southerly tip. Both Dench and Smith loved the location. "It was lovely being down in Cornwall with Maggie, we’ve been friends since we worked together at the Old Vic in 1958", Dench revealed, "it’s always lovely working with her: we’ve had a wonderful time together on this. We spent hours playing endless games of cards in this lovely old attic, gazing down at the sea, it was just lovely." It may come as a surprise that Dench admits she's never filmed in Cornwall. "I’d never filmed in Cornwall before, but used to go down as a child with my family from York every summer during the war. I’ve got friends who live down there too." Smith was just as delighted about the location where shooting commenced in Autumn 2003. "Cornwall was wonderful," says Smith, "we were terribly lucky, we had the most amazing weather. It was just magical. I was very glad that we were in Cornwall for the beginning of the shoot as being by the sea set the tone and atmosphere for us." The two distinguished Dames thoughts were echoed by their young co-star Daniel Brühl who many will remember for his role in the critically acclaimed "Good Bye Lenin!, a film I can definately recommend you hire on DVD. "It was my first time and I was amazed by its beauty. It reminds me a little of France," he said. "I was very surprised by the landscape and the fact that there are palm trees in England!! It’s very inspiring countryside. I’m half German and half Spanish and the people in Cornwall are very mellow and they remind me a lot like the Mediterranean’s. The place underlines the magic and beauty of the whole story. Its gentleness and quietness." Just getting back to the film "Good Bye Lenin!, it was one Dance was not only familiar with but very impressed with. It would lead to Brühl joining the cast. "I was in Copenhagen at a film festival and I met a producer there who’d had a call from Charles Dance, asking if she knew an actor who spoke German and played the violin!"
"She proposed me as at least I speak German, even though I don’t play the violin. Apparently Charles had seen my film "Goodbye Lenin" which he loved and apparently thought my performance was brilliant," Brühl recalls. "I auditioned with him and I found it very relaxed and easy. Two weeks later, he told me I had the part." And that brings me to the second good reason as to why you should see "Ladies in Lavender". The beautiful violin music and the score by Nigel Hess who says "Because one of the lead characters in this film is a musician, I had to be very involved right from the word go. I had to write music that the character (Andrea) was going to play, from snippets that we hear him practicing up in his bedroom, right through to the big concert he plays at the climax of the film, where we felt we needed an original piece of music rather than a movement for a violin concert. We wanted to use the theme all the way through the film, giving it a kind of character. For a composer, this film was a gift from heaven." He says he too was impressed with young Daniel Brühl. "Daniel Bruhl has done an amazing job," he notes, "because a couple of months before shooting began he didn’t really know one end of a violin from another. Oliver Lewis, his violin coach worked closely with him and originally we’d pre-recorded the violin tracks which is the normal way of doing things, then you play it back on set from a CD. However, Oliver and Daniel were working so well together we changed our minds and every time you see the character Andrea playing in the film, Oliver is actually playing a real violin just out of shot, so Daniel is miming to his violin tutor." And what about the contribution celebrated violinist Joshua Bell made to the film? "One of the fantastic things about working on this film is that we’ve had the celebrated violinist Joshua Bell playing. He takes the music I’ve written to a whole new level. Hearing him play was like stepping into a really expensive Rolls Royce." And finally, what about that moving concert at the end? "Charles Dance and I worked very closely to decide on the emotion of the music at a very early stage. We had the wonderful Royal Philharmonic Orchestra playing on the film, so the recording sessions and everything came together so well and we had a ball. Those recording sessions are my favourite time because everything you’ve been hearing in your head, suddenly everyone else hears it and it’s a very magic moment." Last but not least the story behind the story of making the film and how it came about. Dance provided the answer to that. "I was on a film in Budapest where there were lots of books for set dressing and I had about an hour to kill before the set was lit. One of the books I took down was a volume of short stories by William J Lock, who I’d never heard of," Dance explains, "it was called "Faraway Stories" and Ladies in Lavender was amongst them. After I’d finished shooting, I 'liberated' the book from the set! I kept looking at it from time to time, and then when I was in Australia about two years ago, I started to adapt the story into a screenplay and knocked up a synopsis on it. When I got back to England, I wrote a first draft of the script."
Crew Bytes
"LADIES IN LAVENDER" was .......
directed by Charles Dance
["What Rats Won't Do", "Gosford Park", "Black and White" and directorial debut "Ladies in Lavender"]; screenplay by Charles Dance [debut script "Ladies in Lavender"]; original story by William J Locke ["Where Love Is", "The White Dove", "The Sideshow of LIfe" and "The Beloved Vagabond"]; costume design by Barbara Kidd ["The Kitchen Toto", "The Rainbow Thief", "Nil By Mouth" and "Paranoid"]; production design by Caroline Amies ["Afraid Of The Dark", "In the Name of the Father", "The Last September" and "The Gathering"]; edited by Michael Parker ["Nothing Personal", "The House Of Mirth", "Thunderpants" and "Calendar Girls"]; cinematography Peter Biziou ["Life of Brian", "Time Bandits", "In the Name of the Father", "The Road to Wellville" and "Unfaithful"]; original music by Nigel Hess ["An Ideal Husband"] produced by Nicolas Brown ["Ladies in Lavender"]; Elizabeth Karlsen ["The Pope Must Die", "The Crying Game", "Little Voice" and "Purely Belter"]: Nik Powell ["Little Voice", "The Last September", "Black and White" and "The Pope Must Die"] and executive produced by Charles Dance [debut production "Ladies in Lavender"].
Casting About
"LADIES IN LAVENDER" stars .......
Judi Dench
["Mrs Brown", "Iris", "The Shipping News", "Die Another Day" and "The Chronicles of Riddick"]; Maggie Smith ["The First Wives Club", "Tea with Mussolini", "The Last September", "Divine Secrets of the Ya-Ya Sisterhood" and "Harry Potter I, II & III"]; Natascha McElhone ["What Rats Won't Do", "Ronin", "Laurel Canyon" and "Solaris"]; Miriam Margolyes ["Plots With A View", "Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets", "The Life and Death of Peter Sellers" and "Being Julia"]; David Warner ["Wing Commander", "Planet of the Apes", "Back to the Secret Garden" and "Kiss of Life"] and Daniel Brühl ["Deeply", "No More School", "Good Bye lenin!" and "Farland"] as Andrea Marowski.
What It's All About
After a raging storm , two elderly sisters living on the coast of Cornwall, overlooking a little cove, discover a handsome young man washed up on the sand. At first they believe the worse, that he may have drowned but closer examination shows he is alive. They quickly remove him to their house and send an urgent message to the local Doctor. Dr Read delivers good news. With care and recuperation he will make a full recovery. The handsome young mans presence will have a profound impact on the household. As they nurse him back to health, one of the sisters becomes totally besoted by his youthful appearance and boyish looks. He speaks no English and so, half suspecting he's a German sailor, and not wanting to give up their 'prize catch', Ursula and Janet Widdington set about teaching him English. Later, when they discover he can play a tune or two on the violin, the sisters are beside themselves, especially Ursula, who by now is experiencing feelings she didn't realize still existed within her aging body. Then a beautiful young woman, an artist holidaying in the area, hears the music and out of curiosity calls at the house. Later when she calls again, Ursula sees her as a threat. Olga Daniloff, they soon discover, may hold the key to identifying who the young man is. Thanks to Olga and the Widdington sisters, the young man will soon have a bright future.
The Verdict
"Those who's age precludes them from being grouped in with either the 'baby boomers' or the 'grey power' generation, would be well advised to steer clear of this one, unless they have a love for fine acting, beautiful scenery or wonderful music. The other joy in "Ladies in Lavender" is that rare experience of seeing two highly distinguished actresses, Dame Judi Dench and Dame Maggie Smith, appearing together. "Ladies in Lavender" is recommended to those cinemagoers old enough to appreciate the finer, simple things that life offers. That's the strength of this entertaining and unpretentious little film."
The Cast
Judi Dench
Maggie Smith
Natascha McElhone
Daniel Brühl
Miriam Margolyes
David Warner
Toby Jones
Geoffrey Bayldon
Freddie Jones
Ian Marshall
Richard Pears
Clive Russell
Jimmy Yuill
Timothy Bateson
Peter Cellier
Freddie Jones
Scott Hinds
Olga Daniloff
Andrea Marowski
Dr Francis Mead
Mr Penhaligan
Jan Pendered
Adam Penruddocke
Constable Timmins
Mr Hallett
BBC Announcer
Jan Pendered
The Crew
Directed by Charles Dance
Based on the short story "Ladies in Lavender" by William J Locke
Screenplay by Charles Dance
Produced by Nicolas Brown/Elizabeth Karlsen/Nik Powell
Original Music by Nigel Hess
Cinematography by Peter Biziou
Film Editing by Michael Parker
Casting by Sarah Bird
Production Design by Caroline Amies
Costume Design by Barbara Kidd
Run Time 99 minutes
Rated M15+ [AUST]
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