Ladies in Lavender [BBC2] Review

Very moving. The American critic for the NY Times who wrote that it is ‘the cinematic equivalent of a visit from a cherished but increasingly dithery maiden aunt’ wholly missed the point and the complexity of the film.

A boy is washed up on a Cornish beach; he is rescued and taken in by two ageing sisters. They become possessive of him and sometimes quarrel. He turns out to have a god-given gift for music and is stolen away by a mature woman so that that gift can be given to the world. This is not toasted tea cakes and knitting: this is the stuff of myth, so you can also dismiss the other criticism of implausibility. It just doesn’t apply.

It is beautifully composed and photographed, and it is poignantly scripted. Charles Dance’s direction is subtle and sensitive. The acting is superlative – but what else would you expect from the Dames: Maggie Smith and Judy Dench? Daniel Brühl is engaging as the enigmatic Polish boy and Cornwall is so beautiful. Loved it.


PS: The tricky and mutable relationship between youth and age is at the core of my novel, Humphrey and Jack. Jack (Jacek) is even Polish! I put it on record here that I had already written over 92,000 words before I ever saw the film. So no accusations of plagiarism: just screen rights, please.

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