Ladies In Lavender

on April 29, 2005 by Kevin Courrier
"Ladies in Lavender" is one of those precious and hearty vanity projects that gifted and legendary performers lack the good sense to avoid. Reminiscent of Bette Davis and Lillian Gish in "Whales of August," Judi Dench and Maggie Smith play a pair of spinster sisters living in a cottage on the shores of Cornwall during the Second World War. After a storm washes up a young Polish man (Daniel Bruhl) on their doorstep, he immediately falls under their care. As he recovers, one of the sisters (Dench) develops a huge crush on this poor unsuspecting soul. Matters become even more complicated when it's discovered that he's a gifted musical prodigy. When a beautiful Russian painter (Natascha McElhone) vacationing in town just happens to be looking for one, an emotional tug-of-war ensues over the boy's affections.

By remaining cute and tasteful, the creepy subtext only gets to percolate under the surface. The script is also so dense that no one seems concerned about who this boy is, nor does he care to let anyone outside Cornwall know that he's still alive. Although Dench and Smith don't disgrace themselves, Charles Dance turns directing into a form of taxidermy. Starring Judi Dench, Maggie Smith, Daniel Bruhl, Natascha McElhone and David Warner. Directed and written by Charles Dance. Produced by Nicolas Brown, Elizabeth Karlsen and Nik Powell. An IDP release. Drama. Rated PG-13 for brief strong language. Running time: 103 min

Tags: Starring Judi Dench, Maggie Smith, Daniel Bruhl, Natascha McElhone, David Warner, Directed, written by Charles Dance, Produced by Nicolas Brown, Elizabeth Karlsen, Nik Powell, IDP, Drama

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