Director: Stephen Frears
Starring: Judi Dench, Bob Hoskins, Kelly Reilly
and Will Young
RunTime: 1 hr 43 mins
Released By: GV & Festive Films
Rating: M18 (Nudity)
Official Website: http://www.festivefilms.com/mrshenderson
Opening Day: 23 Feb 2006
London, 1937. Mrs Laura Henderson, a woman of wealth and connections,
has just buried her beloved husband. And now she's bored.
At 69, she is far too energetic and vital to fade into gentle
widowhood. To the shock of her friends she decide to buy a
theatre - the Windmill
theatre in the heart of Soho. She knows nothing about running
it, so she hires a manager: enter Vivian Van Damm. His idea
for Revudeville, or non-stop entertainment, is a first, and
the Windmill is packed - until other theatres copy it. Then
it's Laura's turn to devise another first -
having naked girls on stage!
If there’s one thing that must be made clear about “Mrs
Henderson Presents”, it’s what lies at its core.
“Mrs Henderson Presents” is not a musical. “Mrs
Henderson Presents” is not about theatre. “Mrs
Henderson Presents” is not a film glorifying fame. This
film is about an elderly woman, a lonely albeit childish widow
who manages to become a spark of hope in the midst of chaos
through her trials and tribulations in life. And of course,
we see tons of humour. British humour.
about this film looks picture-perfect. The set-up of West
End London is beautiful, with throngs of convincing casts
walking the streets and neon signs lining the buildings. Brands
such as Guinness and Wrigley that stood the test of time are
also prominently displayed on buildings. Especially noteworthy
is the setup of the “Windmill” theater (which
is the theatre purchased by Mrs Henderson and subsequently
run by a Jew Mr Vivian Van Damm), where almost everything
looks elegant and posh despite the lack of spatial consideration.
However, it’s the theatre girls who will take the audience’s
breathe away. With their nude stage performance and authentic
singing vocal, the audiences are transformed back in time
to savour the glamour of (in Mrs Henderson’s term) “French
film also illustrates numerous positive and desirable human
traits that truly make it shine. One of these is perseverance,
which involves moving out of our comfort zones and trying
something new. Despite strong objections from her close friend
on her starting a theatre business, Mrs Henderson decides
to pursue her dreams and achieves it at all cost. She is thus
a moving inspiration in this endeavor. However, what’s
even more interesting is Mrs Henderson’s creativity.
While being stopped by bureaucratic officials on the public
display of nudity, she manages to manoeuvre her way out this
hopeless situation by negotiating still displays of nudity
as artworks instead of the gratuitous offerings of human anatomy.
Mrs Henderson should also be admired for her courage, often
giving thought-provoking and inspiring speeches as well as
using terms that are usually not considered socially polite
in British upper-class social circuit.
Despite all this factors, this film will never shine without
the lead actress Judi Dench’s acting finesse. Often
seen as a strict heiress who controls her family with an iron
hand or a no-nonsense agent M in “Die Another Day”
(2002), she seems to have been stereotyped in such roles.
This film proves once again that Judi Dench does have a wide
range of acting abilities. It also proved that mature female
actresses do have a place in Hollywood, if they are offered
the right roles. This will reinforce the firm standing of
experienced actresses the likes of Diane Keaton and Shirley
MacLaine. What’s mesmorising about Judi Dench’s
performance in this role is her strong ignorance of this world.
In her seventies, Judi’s character Laura Henderson has
almost a childlike relish for life, savoring its every moments
and seeing the good in everyone (which almost bears a close
resemblance to the personality of Oskar Schindler). And she
brings this characteristic of hers to its peak when she realises
that human nature is dual-natured, that there is good but
also evil, and that appearances can sometimes be deceiving.
It’s the tainting of her rose-tinted glasses, her experiencing
an epiphany of this fact but still choosing to believe in
the good that makes this film a break-through.
Judi Dench’s performance could not have stood out if
not for her interesting banter with her theatre manager Vivian
Van Damm (Bob Hoskins). Bob Hoskin’s excellent portrayal
of a domineering and yet at times sensible individual gives
this film a perfect varnish. His character, with his directorial
actions, acts as a complete antithesis to Mrs Henderson’s
childlike and at times illogical approach to making decisions.
Together, they are a perfect pair. And there are few couplings
in films of recent years that have developed a rapport that
work that well.
the ride while watching the transformation of the “Windmill”
theatre’s “Revudeville” performance from
a small-time event to a continuous display of courage through
artistic performances. And ultimately turning into an epitome
of haven for the locals while the German warplanes rained
their bombs down on Britain during the World War.
remarkable display of courage, love and perseverance in this
film has definitely made it a gem of its times.
(An overt display of the remarkable achievements through artistic
endeavours. A brilliant film!)
by Patrick Tay