Review: Ladies in Lavender

Maggie Smith and Judi Dench in Ladies in Lavender

Ladies in Lavender is a throwback to the distant past. Ladies in Lavender was set in 1936 on the coast of Cornwall, but filmed in 2004.

Judi Dench and Maggie Smith star as sisters Ursula and Janet. The two of them together are the only good reason to watch the film. The story about two sisters who live together in a stone house on a rocky coast is fraught with gigantic holes and sexist attitudes.

But it’s still worth it to see Judi Dench and Maggie Smith play together.

A half-drowned man, Andrea (Daniel Brühl), washes up on their shore. They rescue him. They discover he’s Polish and he plays the violin like a virtuoso.

The sisters claim ownership of Andrea and don’t want to share him with anyone, especially the visiting artist Olga (Natascha McElhone). Olga is drawn to their cottage by Andrea’s violin playing.

Olga is the sister of a world famous violinist. She wants to introduce Andrea to her brother, but to do that they must rush to catch the train to London without telling the sisters goodbye.

This breaks Ursula’s heart. She fell in love with Andrea. Because of the age difference, this was regarded by everyone as a foolish fantasy. However, Dr. Mead (David Warner) who tended to Andrea’s injuries, fell in love with Olga. No one thought that a foolish fantasy, despite their age difference. Somewhere back in the mists of early feminism, we used to call that a double standard.

Miriam Margolyes as the housekeeper Dorcas was the other main character in the story. She was a grounded as the sisters were flighty.

Ladies in Lavender is currently streaming on Netflix.

Even the trailer is steeped in a style of storytelling that is long gone and perhaps only ever existed in England.

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