Sunday, February 12, 2006

Movie Review: Mrs. Henderson Presents

This movie was quite enjoyable, though seriously flawed. It had little discernible structure, and the writing relied entirely on one-liners and situational comedy to carry the action. I felt like I was watching a bunch of moments (some very well executed, some clunky) loosely strung together. This is really a shame, because Judi Dench and Bob Hoskins give great performances, and the premise of the film could have made for so much more. Dench plays Mrs. Henderson, a wealthy widow who decides to buy a run-down theater, the Windmill. When the Windmill's shows fail to bring in consistent audiences, she proposes a revolutionary idea: put nude women on stage. She manages to push her plan past the censors, all the while battling her prickly theater manager, Vivian Van Damm, played by Bob Hoskins. (PS, I was terribly distracted by the fact that the movie kept calling Van Damm "VD," which just connoted Venereal Disease to me.) The show is a great success, but then WWII starts, and the Windmill becomes a much-beloved institution to the young men being sent to France (though that phase of the war ended rather abortively at Dunkirk, which is not explained at all in the movie, which instead jumps straight into the Battle of Britain). The war sweeps the film up into a patriotic mood, as Mrs. Henderson and Mr. Van Damm refuse to close the Windmill, believing it their duty to stay open for the sake of the men in uniform. A couple rousing speeches later, the film just ends. It's really weird. Nevertheless, I enjoyed myself, and the direction and acting was generally good.

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