Ladies in Lavender

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Product Description

Two sisters find their lives changed by a young man who has been washed ashore & badly injured. Upon taking him in the two wome discover the mans true origins & his talents as a gifted violinist embarking on a journey they had never imagined for themselves. Studio: Sony Pictures Home Ent Release Date: 04/24/2007 Starring: Judi Dench Natascha Mcelhone Run time: 104 minutes Rating: Pg13 Director: Charles Dance

A couple of old Dames make the slender story of Ladies in Lavender surprisingly moving. Janet and Ursula (Maggie Smith and Judi Dench), a pair of elderly sisters living on the Cornish coast, discover a young Polish man named Andrea (Daniel Bruhl, Goodbye Lenin!) washed ashore and barely alive. They nurse him back to health and discover that he's a talented violinist--a fact also recognized by a mysterious young woman (Natascha McElhone, The Truman Show), who may woo Andrea away from them. The core of the movie is not its plot but the skillful and delicate play of emotions underlying how the sisters treat Andrea; Ursula, a spinster, finds herself sliding from maternal affection to an embarrassing but irresistible schoolgirl crush. Ladies in Lavender captures something that few contemporary movies bother to consider: Older men and women are as capable of passion and desire as the young, but the young carelessly (and sometimes cruelly) disregard the old. In the hands of Dench (Shakespeare in Love, Iris) and Smith (California Suite, Gosford Park)--as well as David Warner (Time After Time) as a bitter doctor--Ladies in Lavender becomes a bit like a violin concerto itself: Discreet and subtle, but finding in the smallest movements a richness of feeling. --Bret Fetzer

Customer Reviews:

    It is impossible to fully express all the pleasure and joy I obtained through witnessing this British film; what a magnificent, thought-provoking and rewarding tour-de-force awaits the viewer! Prepare yourself for an intellectually stimulating, touching fragment of human experience rarely portrayed on screen, yet totally believable here in its sensitive between-world-wars portrayal. The dazzling English cinematography is superb and totally nestles within the plot....more info
  • Enjoyable film
    Wonderful performances by Dame Judy Dench and Maggie Smith. The Cornwall, England country side and the little house makes me wanted to visit the area. The movie description reads beautifully, but was executed in a disappointing fashion. The story fails to grab the viewer and bring depth to the experiences and interactions. I couldn't identify with the violinist as a personality. He projects the image of an overgrown selfish young adult. A start contrast to the sensitive way in which he plays his violin. The story line is tenuous and doesn't satisfy....more info
  • Ladies In Lavender - two fabulous actors!
    Dame Judi Dench and Maggie Smith are great playing sisters and the beautiful music score is played by violinist Joshua Bell. You'll want the movie soundtrack!...more info
  • Love On Many Levels
    Any film with Judi Dench and Maggie Smith is automatically worth buying, but Ladies in Lavender has a special appeal beyond even the draw of these two fine actresses.

    In the late 1930s two lonely sisters live a quiet life in Cornwall. One morning they discover a mysterious young man washed up on the beach near their home. As they nurse him back to health, they discover old memories and some regrets, and learn new love and tenderness. The young man reveals unexpected depths and gifts and shows his own gratitude and love for the sisters, even when tempted by glamour and beauty.

    This is a kindly, pleasing story with enormous emotional appeal. There's enough humor to keep the mood from getting too dark, but the overtones of the times, (of which we are reminded by occasional radio news reports) are always present to provide more pathos. Ladies in Lavender will join the select group of beloved films which I will always try to keep close at hand. ...more info
  • A touching story
    This film features Judi Dench and Maggie Smith at their best. This is a touching and sad story of two sisters whose quiet and ordered world is set reeling by the arrival of a young stranger when he is washed up on the beach near their lonely cottage.

    During the film we get to meet many of the neighbors and friends in the area, and experience the anxiety which the boy and another newly-arrived girl engender in the inhabitants of this pre-World War II Cornish village.

    The setting for the story is beautiful, and the emotional scenes are well balanced by some lively humor. The film ends with some vital questions left unanswered, such as where did the lad come from, why was he washed up, why was he going to the USA, etc. However, despite this, the film is exceptional and charming and will be loved by anyone who enjoys period British drama....more info
  • There is nothing like TWO grand Dames!
    Consider, for a moment, the two female leads of Ladies in Lavender. Each is titled "Dame Commander of the Order of the British Empire"--Judi Dench in 1988, Maggie Smith two years later in 1990. Dame Judi was further bestowed the title "Companion of Honour" in 2005 by HRM Elizabeth II. This is an honor (pardon my Americanization: HONOUR) so rare that only 65 living people in the world have it bestowed at any given time, and of those 65, only 45 may be citizens of the United Kingdom.

    Then there's the fact that they're literally only days apart in age, both being born in December 1934; Dench in Yorkshire, Smith in Essex (Dench is the elder, if you just have to know). Between them they have received: 11 Oscar nominations and 3 wins; 14 Golden Globe nominations and 4 wins; 4 Emmy nominations and 1 win; and (lest we forget their roots on the legitimate stage) 4 Tony nominations and 2 wins. And that's just the story on THIS side of the pond!

    To the younger audiences, Dame Judi's known for playing "M" in the most recent spate of "James Bond" movies and her (some say notorious) Best Supporting Actress Oscar win for an eight-minute performance in 1998's charming comedy "Shakespeare in Love." Dame Maggie is in constant view in previous and forthcoming "Harry Potter" films. Go back a bit farther and Dame Judi is fondly remembered for the 1992-2002 Britcom "As Time Goes By," a tender and endearing story about a post-Korean-era British soldier and nurse who have a brief love affair and then lose touch because of a lost letter, only to find each other again nearly four decades later. It is still seen on a revolving basis on BBC America and on many local PBS affiliate stations. Go back farther still, and there's Dame Judi's early 1980s Britcom with her husband, the late Michael Williams, trying to make a difficult relationship work in "A Fine Romance." And before that, Dame Maggie won her own Oscar, for Best Actress in the 1969 career pinnacle about a stiff, unhappy schoolmarm, "The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie."

    Why am I droning on an on, essentially giving these ladies' biographies before getting to the film? It's because, ladies and gentlemen, when Dench and Smith appear together, as they often have and many times by popular demand, it's difficult to watch anyone else, anything else, and/or anywhere else. If you're not necessarily familiar with these two British actresses, who are essentially living icons in their native U.K., you can't help but sometimes forget there's anyone else on the screen.

    Such may be the case with LADIES IN LAVENDER, a quiet story about elderly sisters Ursula and Janet Widdington, played by Dench and Smith, respectively. As residents of a fishing village along southwest England's Cornwall coast, enjoying their leisurely 1936 summer in their beachfront cottage, their mundane routine is torn asunder when a young man washes ashore, following a violent storm, along the rocks below their cottage. The ladies (particularly Ursula) do their best to nurse him back to health in their late father's bedroom and, after a doctor's examination reveals nothing more serious than a broken ankle, begin to attempt conversation once he finally awakens.

    Communication proves difficult, until Janet's broken German suffices enough to coax German responses from the injured man, who we finally learn is a Polish man named Andrea Marowski (played by Daniel Bruhl), but who also speaks German fluently.

    As Marowski continues to improve, the tight-knit Cornish village becomes abuzz with intrigue and suspicion as news of this German-speaking stranger spreads. Hitler has been Chancellor of Germany for three years and is already building his Nazi Party into a worrisome group of seemingly escalating aggressors. And even though the fall of Poland and the official start of World War II is still three years hence, Europe is growing ever more anxious.

    But Marowski harbors a hidden talent that, when exposed, calms even the most skeptical townsfolk. When a neighbor attempts to please him by playing his violin, the stranger turns the tables and actually shows the local how to really play. When Marowski bravely attends the local Saturday night dance and livens things up with an uptempo native Polish ditty (yes, he can "fiddle," too), seemingly all of the townspeople's fears are allayed.

    Yet while Marowski heals and begins to get comfortable in his new surroundings, he is oblivious to the fact that Ursula (Dench) is falling in love with him. He reminds her of that one heart-shattering love of her life that stayed with her all of her years, and his very presence has rekindled emotions she has not recognized in literally decades. Meanwhile, Janet (Smith) first refuses to acknowledge what she thinks she is observing, then tries to dismiss it as a quirky May-December (or rather December-May) crush, but then realizes that she must speak to Ursula before her heart is irretrievably--and inevitably--broken.

    For Janet, love was painful. Love was bitterness. Of the two sisters, she was the married one, but hers was uniformly unhappy. Her marriage cost Janet her soul, and the sad irony of its abrupt end was that her soldier-husband would only go on to die in World War I, leaving her with the bitter memories to live within for all the ensuing years. It was, therefore, her unhappy but necessary duty to bring Ursula to her senses and realize the futility of her fantasies with Andrea.

    Giving away too much plot from here on would ultimately ruin the story, so I'll merely offer additional cast information beginning with the stunningly beautiful Natascha McElhone as Olga Daniloff, a neighbor on summer holidays who overhears and becomes entranced by Andrea's violin playing. McElhone may be known to American audiences as the nun trying to stop the End of Days from arriving in the 2005 NBC limited series "Revelations"; and she also appeared as George Clooney's late wife (who still appears to him in visions) in the 2002 sci-fi feature "Solaris." (November 2007 update: McElhone is also receiving raves for her new role in the hit pay-cable network Showtime series "Californication," which has already been renewed for a second season in summer 2008. She appears as the long-suffering ex-girlfriend of series star David Duchovny ["The X-Files"], a slacker writer still riding the long-forgotten memories of a single hit book, still desperately in love with McElhone with whom he shares a daughter--despite the fact he never bothered to marry her. As the first season comes to a close, she has married her new boyfriend but has ditched him at the reception and literally runs off with Duchovny and their daughter. McElhone trades her natural British accent for an American one in this series, which has raised eyebrows for its frank nudity and raw language, even by pay-cable standards.)

    Andrea's doctor is played by renowned character actor David Warner, who has a penchant for playing the bad guy. He is smitten with Olga and is enraged when she falls for Andrea. Warner's voluminous credits include the most successful film of all time, 1997's "Titanic"; the 1990-91 ABC series "Twin Peaks"; and as a time-traveling Jack the Ripper in the much-praised hit 1979 film "Time After Time," opposite Malcolm McDowell as H.G. Wells and Mary Steenburgen as a (very confused and frightened) present-day San Francisco bank teller. But to "Star Trek"kers, Warner is an icon, having appeared in "Star Trek V: The Final Frontier" (1989); "Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country" (1991), the final film to feature the entire cast from the original 1966-69 "Star Trek" TV series; and in the TV spinoff series "Star Trek: The Next Generation."

    Daniel Bruhl is a relative newcomer, born in 1978 to a Spanish mother and a German father. He was raised in Barcelona but grew up in Cologne (thus, the flawless German!), and his English, at least in this film, was also seemingly flawless. He is mainly known for the 2003 European releases "Goodbye, Lenin!" and "The Edukators." As Andrea Marowski, he had the horrific task of learning to simulate the playing of the violin as a virtuoso would (like, say Joshua Bell--but more on that later). Bruhl does a wonderful job in this regard, and according to the CD soundtrack notes accompanying this film's DVD (I also review the CD soundtrack; please check it out!), his violin coach, Oliver Lewis, felt that Daniel did so well that the "live" playing in the film is actually, truly live, being played by Lewis just off-camera while being "string-synched" by Bruhl on-camera. Between the two, they find a physical rhythm that makes the viewer truly believe that Bruhl is playing the violin.

    A special mention must be made about the raw, funny, and endearing performance by Miriam Margolyes, as the longtime family maid, Dorcas. Dorcas' family probably had to pull itself up by its bootstraps while she was a young lass, and so she offers herself as she is, warts and all. When she feels that Andrea's time as "houseguest" has come to an end, she puts him to work, including peeling potatoes--or, as she pronounces in her thickest Cornish accent, "spoohds" (better known in the American version of the English language as "spuds"). Watch for the scene between just the two of them, in which Andrea is decidedly not pleased with his new chore and, shall we say, "converses" with Dorcas in an alternate language--WITH alternate language. It's hysterical.

    And finally, kudos to first-time screenwriter and director Charles Dance, who prior to LADIES IN LAVENDER had been exclusively known--and reknowned--as one of Britain's foremost actors, as both leading man and character actor. He was equally at home in a love story as he was playing the villain, although as he continues to age, the latter are the characters for which he is becoming better known. (Aren't we all?) He played the virulent lawyer Tulkinghorn in PBS' 2005 miniseries adaptation of Charles Dickens' "Bleak House," which recently won two Emmy Awards. He also recently appeared in one of PBS' "Mystery: Agatha Christie's 'Miss Marple'" presentations, was a male lead opposite Sigourney Weaver in 1992's "Alien 3," and has appeared in countless Shakespearean productions.

    In LADIES IN LAVENDER, Dance takes on the original story by William J. Locke and remains behind the camera. His experience as an actor pays off immensely. The story is gentle, the pace is pleasantly meandering, the volume is decidedly low (except for the Saturday dance, of course). But along with his director of photography, Peter Biziou, Dance frames a beautiful tableau of a time gone by: not just for the viewer, but also for the characters of Ursula and Janet. Ursula looks at Andrea and is instantly swept back to her youth of 50 years ago; Janet is swept back to her youth also, but all that is accomplished for her is the reminder of a painful marriage and the further need to nip Ursula's fancy in the bud immediately.

    There remain unanswered questions for the viewer. The boat incident with Andrea is never fully explained, whether it was merely the storm that caused his fall into the water or something more sinister, say possibly something Nazi-related.

    And then once lovely Olga sweeps into Andrea's life, he virtually tosses the Widdington sisters aside for Olga's idea (you must see the film or else it'd ruin the plot), and the possibility of the random chances that ensue for Andrea and his life from that point on stretch credibility to the point of almost being farcical. But, not having read the original story, I don't know whether to criticize Locke's story or Dance's screenplay, so I'll reserve judgment and give Dance the benefit of the doubt.

    Finally, there is still another character that is not seen, but it is definitely heard. The Nigel Hess original soundtrack (no, it's not classical music written by some 18th-century composer, though you'll swear it is), features the artistry of American violin virtuoso Joshua Bell and is utterly mesmerizing. After I watched the film, I kept going back over the credits again and again until I was able to find the goods on the soundrack availability.

    Readers, you simply must pick up the Ladies in Lavender ORIGINAL MOTION PICTURE SOUNDTRACK. If you find this review helpful and buy the DVD or watch the film on cable, and if you enjoy the music as much as I did, I strongly suggest that you pick up the soundtrack featuring Joshua Bell on violin and the brilliant composer, Nigel Hess, on piano. The soundtrack CD is also available for purchase right here on I did, and I haven't stopped listening to it yet. In fact, I have a review of the soundtrack here on as well, if you care to take a look at it.

    Nigel Hess' original soundtrack is simply beautiful, and it covers all of the layers: it is just "classical" enough to sound like it could have been written by one of the masters of the 17th or 18th centuries, yet it is so melodical that it stands up to any contemporary classical album/CD available. It is essential to this film, and if you enjoy listening to the sweetest notes to ever flow from the strings of artists like Jascha Heifetz, Eugene Fodor, Yehudi Menuhin, Itzhak Perlman, Isaac Stern, Pinchas Zukerman, or even contemporary pop-classical crossover artists like Midori Goto or Andre Rieu, this film's soundtrack is a must for your CD collection. If your violin tastes tend more toward bluegrass, or even Jack Benny, perhaps you should sit this one out.

    Joshua Bell is destined to be one of the U.S.' great violin virtuosos of all time, and he's very much well on his way already. As of this review, the Indiana native is still in his 30s, handsome as a movie star, is a Grammy Award-winner and performed on the Oscar-winning scores of the films "The Red Violin" (1999) and "Iris" (2001), and among his many credits can also add a recent recording with another pop-classical crossover artist, singer Josh Groban. The soundtrack also features the deft piano performances of soundtrack composer Hess and Simon Mulligan.

    If you haven't fallen asleep reading this review yet, I won't fault the script for obvious lapses in logic for their necessities in bringing the film to a satisfying, if not wistful, conclusion. The supporting cast is superb, the camera fills the screen with lush beauty and gorgeous sea- and landscapes, Charles Dance's direction shows an actor's affinity for an actor's point of view, but...

    The name of the film is LADIES IN LAVENDER, and in the end, it is the grand Dames whom you cannot stop watching. Dames Judi Dench and Maggie Smith are simply magnificent. Their characters couldn't be more different, and at the same time they couldn't be more alike. There are many wise, world-weary years behind their eyes and in their souls, and they fill the screen and share them with you from the opening frame. Utterly superb (and I still wish I could give half-stars, because it would be 4-1/2 instead of just 4).

    Rating: **** (out of 5) 25 Sept 06; updated 24 Jan 08 -- BOB BOURBEAU...more info
  • Judi and Maggie together again!
    This film displays the brilliance and talent of two of the classiest women in show-business, Judi Dench and Maggie Smith. Miriam Margolyes is also wonderful as the maid. The setting is absolutely beautiful in Cornwall, England, and the story is quite touching, with a tasteful mix of humor. You will fall in love with this film and these wonderful British ladies....more info
  • Ladies in Lavender
    I happen to love Dame Judi Dench. You may know her as the matron in THE IMPORTANCE OF BEING EARNEST, or you may know her as James Bond's female boss, M. I recently reviewed SHAKESPEARE IN LOVE and noted that her presence (as Queen Elizabeth, naturally) showed up the woeful lack of ability in a few costars. In this film, she's teamed with Maggie Smith, another fine British actress. Well, 15 minutes into this dog, I was bored out of my skull and stopped watching. Sorry, ladies.
    ...more info
    This is a lovely tale that shows that love and emotion is not only timeless but knows no geographic boundaries. Two sisters in the autumn of their life --(Ursula) Judi Dench and (Janet) Maggie Smith are living an ordinary life in Cornwall (Southern England near the seasore) in pre-world War II England when their world turns extraordinary as a young Polish foreigner Andrea (Daniel Bruhl -- GOOD BY LENIN!) washes ashore badly injured near their coastal home. The surprise visitor (and guest) at their home changes them dramatically -- for Janet it awakens motherly insticts, for Ursula (Dench)the presence of the gorgeous and talented young man touches a romantic part of her that has been dormant her whole life...and brings out naive responses that are so human. For the visiting artist down the road Natascha McElhone the young man's amazing musical talent touches not only her awareness of brilliance and importance of living out your potential...the local folks in Cornwall -- who are a breed of their own -- they even speak a kind of Gaelic are wary and later even suspicious of what this young man means to a pre-war England...could he be a spy? Who is that other foreigner who speaks German-- the artist...For the two sisters...the artist seems to interfere in their little triad of the two sisters and Andrea....charming, tear jerker that seems to be a modern type fairy tale (as noted on the special interview with the screenwriter and stars on the DVD supplement). It ties up very sweetly and can be a bit maudlin ....but then it's always good to suspend disbelief and believe in romance for awhile...beautiful scenery....see this on a VERY HOT AUGUST day and it will bring you a cool breeze of change.......more info
  • a completely A M A Z I N G film !
    I've just read the other reviews on this page and am a little annoyed at the lacklustre comments on this little gem of a film that has sat in my DVD collection for the last 18 months until today when I finally got to watch it. It is a completely amazing film. One of the reasons I suppose it took me so long to get around to actually watching it is the in my view really bad cover artwork and a really bad title. However the film itself is so beautifully crafted trust me.

    The physical setting is superb, really timeless & beautiful. Judi Dench is TOTALLY tremendous without a shadow of a doubt. Daniel Bruhl is completely perfect! The whole film is amazing.

    There's a fair bit of interest for the classical music enthusiast too. The violin music (played by Joshua Bell!) is WONDERFUL.

    My one and ONLY criticism in the whole film is that Maggie Smith's character wasn't drawn out a bit more. She is the fine dame of British acting and a real favourite so it was a pity. However I'm reluctant to mention this really as this film really scores 100% for me....more info
  • Grand Dames Do it Again
    Ladies in Lavender is a fabulous film starring two of the best British character actresses gracing the big (and small) screen as well as stage, Maggie Smith and Judi Dench. They portray two elderly sisters, one a war widow (Smith) and one a spinster (Dench), who live in a cottage in a small town in Cornwall, England (a picturesque example of what life there should be). The timeframe is 1936, between World Wars, and as the sisters are taking their daily walk along the Cornish coast on their property, they come across what appears to be the body of a man washed up on the shoreline. They discover that he is still alive and vow to take him in and nurse him back to health. It turns out he is a Polish violinist who somehow became separated from the ship he was aboard (not fully explained, but a minor point). He speaks no English, the sisters speak no Polish, although Maggie Smith's character has a passing grasp of German, which is better than her piano playing--an amusing scene with the patient cowering and covering his ears upstairs in his room as she plays. There are hilarous attempts to try and make each other understood, including Judi Dench's labeling everything with cards in English to teach him the langauge, drawing the ascerbic response from Maggie Smith that the only thing she had accomplished was to put holes in the furniture. The sisters are very protective of their patient, but gradually share him with the community. He entertains everyone at the local pub when he borrows a violin and plays for them. He also catches the attention of a beautiful vacationing foreigner who is there to enjoy the scenery and solitude and paint landscapes. She, in turn, attracts the attention of the local doctor, who has been treating the Polish violinist. She happens to be the sister of a famous world-class violinist and she inadvertantly hears the recuperating Polish violinist play as she rides her bicycle past the cottage of the sisters. Her interest in him, which the sisters misconstrue as romantic, raises the green god of jealousy, particularly in the spinster sister (Judi Dench) who daydreams of HER violinist. The foreigner sends a letter to her famous brother telling him about the talent of this young unknown musician and also sends a letter to the Polish patient, telling him about her brother, but the sisters intercept and destroy it, of course, after having read it first. The letter explained that her brother was touring and would be in London and wanted to meet the young Polish violinist. Without giving away the final part of the story, it is a beautiful film; bittersweet, a touch of the missing coming-of-age romance for the spinster sister, gorgeous scenery and the realities of the situation in the world at that time. Maggie Smith and Judi Dench are real class acts who say volumes with their expressions and gestures. A real keeper of a film. ...more info
  • "Feel good" movies
    This was a wonderful movie that makes you "feel good" and helps you forget your problems. This movie is best viewed with wine and candels and good company....more info
  • Ladies in Lavender
    This is a poignant story about an old woman who has yet to find peace with her past. It's pace is slow and understated, yet it moves you to a deeper level of understanding about loves' lost....more info
  • Conwall, 1930 -- and might have beens
    Ladies in Lavender, directed by Charles Dance and starring Maggie Smith and Judy Dench is one of those quiet British movies. Not much happens. Two elderly sisters are spending the summer in Cornwall and during a storm a young man washes up on the beach unconsious with a broken ankle. The sister care for him and since he doesn't speak English start to teach him while brushing up on their German which is a language they have in common. Andrea (Bruhl) turns out to be a violinist. Another visitor to the village, a young woman artist, has a brother who is a violinist and she writes to him of Andrea.

    Most of what happens happens in our minds. It's what you bring to the film and not so much what is shown that makes the movie. So you may love it or be bored stiff depending on your perception of events. The scenery is lovely and the interactions between the characters show the small village community of the 30s....more info
  • Well done film
    The Widington sisters, Janet and Ursula, lived a quiet life off the beach in Cornwall until one day when a storm tossed up a young Polish man. The two nurse him back to health, spending their own meager funds to help clothe and heal him. This is just before WWII and the British are highly suspicious of any foreigner, particularly when Andrea (the young Polish man) takes up with Olga, a Russian artist.

    If I could give 4.5 stars I would, the only problem I had was it was difficult to establish time and place very well with this film. Still, it was immensely enjoyable, well filmed and beautifully acted. Kudos to the whole cast! ...more info
  • It Doesn't Get More British Than This.
    Judi Dench and Maggie Smith face to face. This is reason enough to see this movie or any other movie. Supperb lesson of acting by The Dames and everybody else in the cast.
    Recreation of the era, cinematography, music; specially music, all adds to the viewing pleasure of this crepuscular competition for love.

    If you like your typical British movie setting in a bygone era with excruciating attention to detail, kind of on the lines of James Ivory, you will be delighted with this one.

    And, did I mention those Dames...
    ...more info
    It seems like I've seen, many times, on film the theme of this film--a waif of a young man is washed ashore unable to speak the language possessing a great hidden talent (playing the violin) and is rescued by two reclusive old ladies that are somewhat enjoying their dodge with one of them longing for something else which comes in the form of the washed ashore young man. Maggie Smith and Judi Dench's extreme acting abilities are truly what make this film memorable.

    I'm sure that Maggie Smith and Judi Dench could have played their roles with both hands tied behind them and short of one or both of their legs. They are sooooooo good in their respective roles. Maggie plays the seemly stronger sister sublimely demonstrating and showing her strengths while at the same time exhibiting her vulnerabilities. Judi plays the seemly weaker sister Ursula so very well eliciting from us, the audience, much sympathy. I actually cried at some of her scenes. Although it was the dames' show, the entire cast is great. (especially Miriam Margolys-of Black Ader fame--is wonderful as their cranky housekeeper)

    The film is shot gorgeously on a beautiful coast (of Great Britain, I'm sure) plus the sound tract is wonderful--Joshua Bell playing the violin beautifully.

    If you want to see two ladies act everyone under the table plus hear some beautiful violin music and see some wonderful scenery, buy this DVD.
    ...more info
  • The depth of emotion was amazing
    This film should have wider notice. It was beautifully filmed and well acted all around. I am shocked at the depth of emotion that is revealed in the Ursula and Janet...DESIRE! Wow! ...the emotion in Andrea...his desire for more. Watch it. Recommend it to others....more info
  • Nuanced and Full of Heart
    I'm trying to find fault with this movie, but coming up empty. Unless it's the film's "fault" that I stayed up way too late, watching it in its entirety twice. Yet I can't complain because it was worth it. The first time I laughed aloud a lot; not many reviewers here mention the humor, but it's present alright; just presented subtly by the fine acting talents of Maggie Smith and Judi Dench (and others), making it all the more delightful. "Ladies in Lavender" is sweetly moving as well, as the two spinster sisters living in Cornwall in the 1930's receive an unexpected "guest" who suddenly rocks their world. So I was compelled to watch it immediately a second time, to prolong the enjoyment. Yes, there are unlikely coincidences; yet in director Charles Dance's hands, it doesn't matter. The story plays out well regardless, with just the right emphasis in just the right moments to make it seamless. Actually, viewers will discover when they watch the DVD extras that there were coincidences involved in the making of this movie that were just as unlikely...Mind you, these extra features include none of the boring, ego-driven minutiae that one usually encounters in these formats; just brief interviews with the Grand Dames and Mr. Dance that illuminate the process and enhance one's enjoyment of it.

    I thank Charles Dance for choosing to make a short story that he happened upon, called "Ladies in Lavender", as his directorial debut. Part of the real-life coincidence was that he was able to cast the perfect actors for it as well, and this actor/director collaboration is superb. I look forward eagerly to more of his (or their) efforts. BRAVO! ...more info
  • A bittersweet love story
    It is 1936 in the village of Cornwall, and elderly sisters Ursula (Judi Dench) and Janet (Maggie Smith) are living a well-ordered and dull life. A violent storm washes a young man (Daniel Bruhl) ashore; the sisters take him in and nurse him back to health. Ursula, the more emotional of the two, is drawn to him immediately and soon has romantic fantasies about him. Janet, the older, no-nonsense sister, is initially less involved, but slowly she, too, comes to see the young man as "hers." His talent for the violin is noticed by their lovely neighbor (Natascha McElhone), but the sisters are jealous of her interest and want to keep him to themselves.

    This little movie is quite fragile and touching. There's not a lot of action here, but the two stars make it a most satisfying experience. The focus is entirely on their emotional reaction to the presence of the mysterious young man, and both Dench and Smith are masters in the arts of facial expression and speech. Dench's never-married Janet will tug at your heartstrings as she curls up alone on the young man's bed and cries, and Smith's Ursula is a multi-layered character as well. Miriam Margolys plays a crusty housekeeper for a bit of comic relief, and the always reliable David Warner is a lovelorn village doctor. The various plot threads are left unresolved, much like real life, and one is left with a glimpse into two lives that is heartfelt and real. Dench and Smith are unforgettable; I heartily recommend "Ladies in Lavender" to their fans....more info
  • A Slightly Odd Story Told with Warmth, Charm & Wit
    If you enjoy quirky, but touching little films like Local Hero, My House in Umbria, Arthur's Dyke, and Chocolat, you'll enjoy Ladies in Lavender. The plot alone sets up the bittersweet nature of the film - English spinster sisters find a young foreign man unconscious on their beach and nurse him back to health, sparking unexpected feelings of love, insecurity, and foolishness. But the film's humorous moments, of which there are many, are sprinkled lightly throughout to add a smile and keep the overall tone light, despite some otherwise sad occurrences.

    The entire cast is wonderful, including a tremendous bunch of eccentric villagers that "introduce" the young man to England, but best of all are the sisters played by Dames Judi Dench and Maggie Smith. Both are at their quietly graceful best, imbuing every scene with the subtle sense of reality that we've come to expect from them.

    Also worth noting is the Special Features section of the DVD. I don't usually watch those much, but I was glad I did this time. Without getting into the long-winded "making of the film" stuff that often spoils the illusion for me, it offers a short interview with the director and the two lead actresses. It was well worth the few minutes it takes to watch.

    Enjoy....more info
  • 4.5 Stars--A Very Touching Film, beautifully told
    This is a terrifically moving film, sad but not maudlin, introspective but not self-absorbed. As opposed to most Hollywood films (e.g. see my review of "In Her Shoes") this movie deals with deep emotional issues, but does so in a subtle, realistic way. smith and Dent's performances are superb as two elderly sisters who put up an injured youth in their home, only to have onee of them, very inappropriately, fall in love with him. Dent's performance of a lonely woman who has never known love could melt the iciest heart.

    The only drawbacks of the film are the coincidences required to tell its story (the young man is a world-class violinist and a visiting foreign woman, who happens to be beautiful and his age, has great connections in the classical music world), and the loose ends that are never answered (where was the young man going when his ship sank?? why isn't anyone looking for him??)

    Still, these questions are not important compared to the superb things the film accomplishes. ...more info
  • A gem of a movie... refreshing!
    Judi Dench has a presence on screen that makes any movie she stars in well worth seeing. This is no exception. This movie is very innocent and simple but has a tender undertone. The two ladies are stark contrasts to one another and really lend an intriguing dimension to the film. Great flick. Must see!...more info
  • There are no accidents
    This movie touched on some interesting ideas. First that the young violinist ended up here, not his original destination, but because he is here now, he meets the sister of a famous violinist and has the chance of a lifetime, to be completly enabled to see his fondest dreams come true.
    Also it touches the fact that someone quite a bit older than he was could have an attraction to him, because she missed that part in her life as a young woman, she longed to be loved, and though it was impossible to fulfill that, she did for a moment have the happy day dream that she could have had that as a young woman.
    The elderly sisters are cute with their quiet struggles to be first in this young mans life, they both wanted to feel needed.
    In the end everyones needs are met, to their individual desires.
    Truly in this life there arent any mistakes.
    My husband and I really enjoyed it....more info
  • Ladies in Lavender
    As I am a big fan of Judi Dench I appreciate her acting in all her films. In this one, I could relate to her agony and feelings of love even though she was a much older woman. I admire her for this role with no pretense of trying to look glamorous. Maggie Smith is as usual very talented and it is a double treat to have them in the same film. For lovers of violin music you will enjoy it in this film. I wished it could have gone on longer. ...more info
  • Good Movie
    I really bought this movie because it is filmed on location in Cornwall, one of my favorite places on earth. It turned out to be an interesting story with great acting. (No suprise from Judy Densch, of course.) It is a keeper!...more info
  • Delivery and opinion of DVD
    DVD delivered quickly and in good order. DVD one of my favourite. This one is a gift for a friend....more info
  • Ladies
    This had good actors in it, but the sound seemed garbled, so it was hard to understand the dialogue....more info
  • soft-hued lavender...
    This is for those who enjoy the works of Maggie Smith and Judi Dench. Daniel Bruhl doesn't harm your eyes either. The story is joyously light but deep, the characters of Maggie Smith and Judi Dench are superbly played. It's like sibling rivalry, but not sibling rivalry. It's jealousy,
    but not jealousy. Ah, life! So simple and complicate. I guess that's why life is lavenders swaying by the wind.

    And the music throughout! Gorgeously played by Joshua Bell, and it decorated this movie and made me run to the record shop to get the cd after I've finished watching this underrated gem.

    A warning though, this is a film for those who loves "talkie" romance drama genre...of the old kind(pun not intended!).

    Enjoy!!!...more info
  • A Bit Disappointing
    I bought this movie on the strong recommendation of a friend. I enjoyed it, but thought the ending was a tad weak. The two actresses starring are legends and did an admirable job. Not a bad way to spend a couple of hours, but I wish I had seen it on cable instead of buying it. Doubtful that I will watch it again in the future....more info
  • Wonderful and Moving
    I loved this movie! It is so touching that it brought me to tears. I am in a stage of my life where I am dealing with some of the emotions and angst that come with aging, and I felt such wrenching emotions for Ursula. I love it when a movie can make me feel like that. Maggie Smith and Judi Dench are perfect as sisters - their tussles, jealousies, and caring for one another. This is an unusual kind of love story, from many angles, and mixing the violin and different cultures with it made it even more interesting. The seaside setting is gorgeous. I highly recommend this movie for people who like good stories, human interest, great acting, and emotional tugging of the heartstrings....more info
  • Ladies In Lavender
    Dame Maggie Smith is very strong but the part Dame Judi Dench is given is 'wet' - for it does nothing to show her true acting/filmic talents (as the strong, powerful, dominating woman). However, the settings are great and Andreas the stranded violinist plays his part convincingly. Other than falling down in the area of the 'tormented older vicarious female lover' role that Judi is given, this is still a fine film and well worth watching. It rates as one of those Dench films that you will talk about and recommend to fellow enthusiasts....more info
  • Dench,Smith AND Miriam Margolyes in THREE roles of a lifetime
    LADIES IN LAVENDER was so fascinating in subject matter,soundtrack and skillful acting when I saw it the two times in the theatre,I just knew that this was a DVD that had to be in my collection.
    Judi Dench and Maggie Smith are my two favorite actresses.To see them together again ( A ROOM WITH A VIEW) is to watch two undeniable pros in action.This is a film about feelings,and more is communicated by facial expressions and small glances than with words.This is how the great silent screen stars did it...they "had faces" to quote from SUNSET BOULEVARD.
    Two spinster sisters in Cornish England, somewhere before WW2 have their lives unexpectedly interrupted when a young man,a Polish foreigner washes up on shore at their cliffside family home.Janet (Smith) and Ursula (Dench) take him under their wings to nurse him to health.They discover,quite comically that he is Polish.Janet discovers that Andreas (Daniel Bruhl)can speak German,so all initial communication goes through these two;but we know from the first glance that Ursula is in love.The subject matter here is that no matter how old we get we can still have "feelings",not always sexual,that are like first love. This is Judi Dench's forte.She knows how to play this character who is so complex, and yet so "naive,...not old and foolish."I never tire of this film. Each viewing gets better and deeper.Amazon sells this gem as low as $3.50.What a bargain to see the cream of the crop at their best.
    There is a THIRD woman in LADIES that I would like to give special mention; Miriam Margolyes as Dorcas the housekeeper is my all time favorite supporting role character actress. This English-Bellarussian-gay actor never ceases to amaze me at just how good she is in interpreting different characters;from the High Society of New York in THE AGE OF INNOCENCE to the world of the Hungarian Jew in SUNSHINE to the madcap musical THE LITTLE SHOP OF HORRORS,Margolyes with her unforgettable face and bulk is the true comic relief in LADIES.She keeps the flick from becoming too serious.She is a marvel.Her filmography is astounding for its volume....more info
  • A rare Dench misstep.
    Ladies in Lavender (Charles Dance, 2004)

    I will watch anything Dame Judi Dench is in, a rule that has rarely steered me wrong. While I can't say it entirely did in this case, it certainly wasn't one of the better movies I saw this weekend.

    Dench and the equally charming Maggie Smith (whose legacy will now forever be tied with the Harry Potter movies, the poor girl) play spinster sisters who rescue a Polish lad, Andrea Marowski (The Bourne Ultimatum's Daniel Bruhl), when he washes up on their beach after being shipwrecked. Both sisters are drawn to the boy romantically, but find themselves competing for his affections with a stranger in town, Olga Daniloff (Solaris' Natasha McElhone). What's a woman to do when the competition for her romantic interest is fifty years younger?

    While it's impossible to fault most of the aspects of this movie (the acting, the cinematography, etc., are all stellar), Dance's script (based on a William Locke short story) and direction are not terribly accomplished. Dance has over the years stamped himself as a fine, fine actor, but you know the old saying. The script leaves barely enough of the story for the viewer to get a handle on what's going on, but doesn't give us characters strong enough to entirely drive the movie. That said, Dance does seem to have an eye for certain shots (the movie's final shot, while somewhat predictable, is still enough to redeem some of the movie's shallower flaws). Perhaps a bit of experience and a co-writer will make it work for him.

    Interesting, kind of. Only for Judi Dench completists, though. **...more info
  • Beautiful. Moving. Gorgeous.
    I'd like to transplant myself in a little home next to the sisters' house, it would be bliss. Beyond the absolutely stunning scenery and costuming, this is a bittersweet, lovely movie....more info
  • Call it, Two Sisters, that would have brought in more patrons
    For a great actress, Dench has made more bad films than anyone since Helen Hayes, and this is pretty much the bottom of the barrel, but I can see that at Amazon it's immensely popular among a vocal claque of fans. What's up with that? My guess is that everybody loves the delicate, nuanced byplay between Janet (Maggie Smith) and Ursula (Dench) as the two elderly sisters who sleep side by side in their exquisite Cornwall house, and the fat maid, played by redoubtable ham Miriam Margolyes, is also a hit among the fans who like her being bawdy and Shakespearean towards the two sisters and the young male visitor, who "hasn't got anything she hasn't seen before."

    People also seem to like movies set in the past, and 1936 smudges the edges into a faded romance. To me, this picture is exactly like NOTES ON A SCANDAL, in which Dench also falls in love with a young beauty decades her junior, except here it's played like something out of a fairy tale. The young man appears on the strand, near dead, they take him in, they play cavaliers to his sleeping beauty. NOTES ON A SCANDAL, however, at least took the time to establish the back story of its characters. Here we know absolutely nothing about Andrea, the handsome young Pole, except that he's charming, roguish, and can play the violin very beautifully. (Wouldn't it have been a great casting coup if Charles Dance had let US violinist Joshua Bell, who provides the soundtrack, take the part? He's movie star handsome and Andrea, after all, didn't have to be Polish, did he? He could have been shipwrecked from America too!) (Maybe deaf and dumb to provide the element of mystery Dance seems to require for Andrea's character!)

    This movie did not do well, but that's probably because no man in his right mind would go to a multiplex and say, "Umm, yes, two for 'Ladies in Lavender' please." I'd rather kill myself than utter those words. It would be easier to buy a case of Tampax at a busy Wal Mart. But on DVD perhaps some men will enjoy the picture. Poor Maggie Smith, I hope they paid her a lot of money because in every scene, Judi Dench reaches out her little paw and steals it.

    I think also that Dance forgot to tell Natascha McWhatever her name is that the movie is set in the 1930s....more info
  • MrB
    Excellent vehicle for Dench - I get all her films if I can. She is tender and believable in this one....more info
  • Charmed by Ladies in Lavender
    Ladies in Lavender is a rare gem in the movie world of today. This is a soft spoken tale that ignores age and looks to character. Beautiful roles for older women may be hard to find these days and when a movie comes along with two such roles you could not ask for anything better than to have two wonderful Ladies, Judi Dench and Maggie Smith, take on those roles. This movie was adapted from a short story of the same title but its silver screen life comes from the actors who played their parts to perfection.

    The movie takes place in a small Cornish village where the viewer is given an immediate sense of isolation - perhaps isolation from life, from emotions and from vulnerabilities. The sisters Ursula and Janet Widdington, played by Dench and Smith, spend a quiet, uninvolved existence, venturing out rarely. But on one of their walks along the beach that they find a young man washed ashore after a storm. A bit befuddled they nevertheless take this young may into their home to help him recuperate. This one act of kindness leads to unexpected consequences for we see that age is not a barrier to unleashing emotions, feelings that have been hidden for so many years. It is the ability of Dench and Smith to portray these emotions, these feelings, for the camera that make this movie sing. And the melody of the movie is also carried nicely by the supporting roles played by Daniel Bruhl and Natascha McElhone. Together these actors make this move work on several levels to give the viewer a splendid evening's entertainment.
    ...more info
  • Ladies in Lavender
    What a sweet story...whenever Dench and Smith are together, it's a keeper....more info
  • A superb experience
    I have since ordered another copy of the film and 4 copies of the music to give to friends....more info
  • Pleasant story
    Ok, I have no idea what the Lavender part of the title means since they never wear lavender, but it's a cute story nonetheless. Maggie Smith and Judi Dench do a fantastic job in their roles as always. The supporting cast is great as well. I think the movie could've done just a little more explaining the ladies' lives before the start of the movie, but you get enough along the way to get it....more info
  • Judi Dench at her best
    This is an absolutely marvelous movie. We love just about anything that Judi Dench does but this is one of her best. It deals with the relationships between generations in a very tender and realistic way. You can't go wrong with this DVD....more info
  • GOOD
  • What a treat!
    Oh my, Maggie and Judi together. Absolute bliss. What a shame this delightful piece didn't get better theatre play in the States. Good story, great acting by two of the great Dames. Will watch this one again and again....more info
  • A sweet little movie in a minor key.
    "Ladies in Lavender," the debut of star character actor Charles Dance as a writer-director, virtually defines the concept of "mood piece." Certainly the story begins with a momentous, dramatic event: aging sisters Ursula (Judi Dench) and Janet Widdington (Maggie Smith) discover a shipwrecked, half-drowned young man (Daniel Bruhl) on the beach near their Cornwall home, and nurse him back to health. After that, however, very little happens in the dramatic sense; the film is all about the emotions the mysterious young man's arrival stirs in the two sisters--particularly Ursula, in whom the stranger stirs a much belated (and, she realizes, completely hopeless) sexual awakening. Dance's script is based on a short story by an author named William J. Locke, and as often occurs with feature-length films based on short stories, the script is undernourished. Nothing that happens is really a surprise: once the sexy, vaguely predatory painter Olga (Natascha McElhone) appears, you know the role she will play in the story, and that's that. Meanwhile, great actors such as David Warner and Miriam Margulyes do what they can with their underwritten roles; other fine actors, such as the father-son team of Freddie and Toby Jones, barely get any screen time at all. As the young man, Bruhl--who was so excellent in "Goodbye Lenin"--has little to do except look adorable and play the violin. McElhone makes a little stronger impression, but not much. Even the magnificent Smith is too often relegated by the script to being stiffly sensible; the only fully realized character is Dench's. But her character, plus the exquisite, heart-melting Cornwall landscapes and seascapes captured by photographer Peter Biziou, are enough to put the movie across. The poignant mood of "Ladies in Lavender" is what stays with you: how two quiet lives are touched for a short time by what turns out to be a much bigger life, and how they go back to their routine after it's over, with nothing but the memory left to them. People who like a quiet, meditative time at the movies will find this sweet, minor-key little film well worth seeing. The extras on the DVD are limited to a short featurette of Dance, Smith and Dench discussing the movie and its making....more info