Wednesday, January 11, 2006

Movie Review: Mrs Henderson Presents

Mrs Henderson Presents is a pleasant, very "British" movie based on the true story of Laura Henderson (Judi Dench) who buys an old London theatre when her husband dies and she needs something to do with her time. She renovates it and calls it The Windmill. The theatre becomes an overnight success because of various innovations including continuously running shows at all hours of the day. Unfortunately, though, other theatres copy The Windmill and its popularity begins to wane. What to do? Mrs Henderson decides to introduce all-nude revues after reassuring the local authorities that none of the nude members will move -- making them a work of art and thus acceptable. The revues, of course, become popular and provide a distraction for the soldiers and civilians as World War II rages on around them. The plot is very straight forward - the first half of the movie concerned with the acquisition and establishment of the new theatre and the second half dealing with the challenging of social mores by the provocative Mrs Henderson. Judi is her usual excellent self and, without her performance, the movie would drag. Bob Hoskins plays her theatre manager (Vivian van Damm) and the tension between he (who wants full artistic control) and Mrs Henderson (who wants to meddle) provides a constant sub-plot throughout the movie. The chemistry between the two is perhaps the best part of the movie and provides some very amusing exchanges. As usual with these British period pieces, the costumes and sets are lavish and the cinematography is pleasing. There is a stellar cast in supporting roles and the narrative moves along at a leisurely pace. It's a feel good movie that is lifted slightly above average by Dench and Hoskins. Mrs Henderson Presents a nicely crafted, pleasant couple of hours of entertainment. My Rating: ***1/2 (out of 5) Positive Review 'Marvelously enjoyable.' - Peter Rainer/Christian Science Monitor Negative Review 'It says something that during a scene in which nude chorines are turned into a fleshy backdrop, you spend as much time looking at your watch as what's on screen.' - Mike Clark/USA Today Content Warning Nudity and brief language Related Links

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