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Ladies in Lavender (2004)
Great & Marvelously Talented Character Actors in a Superb Drama
Who but Dames Judi Dench and Maggie Smith could play elderly sisters who don't particularly agree too much with each other's conventions utlizing such subtle acting talents? The script is terrific with lines thatare worthy of both great British stage and screen actors. Supporting characters present fine performances as well.
It's terrific to have such a quality drama that is true to the real lives of senior women who live in another culture outside of my own in the US. Forget all of the nonsensical bleeping of scripts loaded with cursing (even though I am no prude!). Such scripts lack the integrity of presentation of a superior English lexicon. Forget the loud, fast paced action that appeals to more violence-craving audiences than me. Forget wacky comics who'd use all sorts of gimmicks and graphics to create anything but a character close to any culture's true life.
Have a good look at the very strengths that abound in the whole of this film. The story plot line is a excellent one, I assure you. It goes like this: The ladies in lavender find a body of a young man barely still alive on the rocky, rough surf, beach in front of their old home. They take him in and nurse him to health. He turns out to be an extraordinarily gifted individual. When it is discovered that he is, the ladies have to face a harsh reality in order for him to realize his potential.
It is comparable to "Tea with Mussolini" in both quality of script, story, and especially cast. How it slipped under popularity radar when "Tea . . ." didn't, is a mystery. This is a film that needs to be viewed by any age group of people. There's nothing about it a child couldn't understand and plenty about it that senior people would relate to, as well. "Whales of August" with Bette Davis and Lillian Gish is a superior treasure.
Blazing a New Professional Trail for Women
Barbra Streisand has referred to herself as 'an actress who happens to be a singer'. I doubt I am alone in viewing her professional legacy in the reverse: as a great singer who happens to be an actress . . . director, producer, screenplay writer, musical score composer, humanitarian, and lately, concerned with using her production and direction talents to bring out important social issues (like ageism--"The Living Century" is about centurions--people a hundred years old or more).
"Yentl" marks the beginning of a woman blazing a new trail as a director, singer, composer, her hands in the screenplay, and production. She's spoken in a segment on "The Directors," about how various cultures have treated her as a result of her deliberate transcendence of Hollywood's gender-biased boundaries. One of her most interesting points reveals how well she was treated in England by the British filming crew. Since gender-bias against women is not even comparable to gender bias in the US, because England is so far advanced beyond gender discrimination because one is a woman, Streisand remarks how much easier it was for her to accomplish her goals on the set because the British film crew treated her without gender-bias, and with the respect she is certainly due.
"Yentl" royally upset the AFI in the US because Streisand entered into no woman's land when she had a hand in nearly every aspect of the motion picture. "Yentl" has some of the most memorable, touching, humanely familiar music and lyrics, yet it received no Academy Award. The direction was brilliant--no Academy Award. The screenplay was one that was serious, hilarious, religious, spiritual, and even addressed the issues of gender-bias head on--no Academy Award. Streisand's and Amy Irving's acting was stupendous--no Academy Award.
Streisand paved the way and took the non-recognition by the Film Academy without stopping. This musical motional picture pales many that are classics. The story is an extra interesting one, the likes of which have not been reproduced with anything close to as much skill and class.
I'll give this classic about six Academy Awards, including several that go to Streisand alone.