Very enjoyable confection of four veteran British actresses on whom the title of 'Dame' has been conferred, reminiscing together in the way that they've been doing for years, only this time with cameras present.
The illustrious quartet comprises Maggie Smith. Judi Dench, Eileen Atkins (all three of these now 83 and due to add a further year later in 2018) and Joan Plowright, 88, practically, if not completely, blind now, also with hearing difficulties. The first two of the four named are, of course, well known to cinema and TV audiences. the latter two probably better remembered for their theatrical work, though they have both appeared in a number of films as well. (For those who don't know, Joan Plowright is the widow of Sir Lawrence Olivier, so he features prominently in their anecdotes).
These four ladies meet up periodically in a country house (Joan Ps? in Sussex?) for a regular chinwag on this and that.
Talking points are random, though all connected with their acting careers - the direction of conversation sometimes guided or prompted by the film's director, Roger Michell ('Notting Hill' etc) from off-screen. The film crew becomes occasionally intrusive, though the four are never rude about it.
It's not filmed in one continuous take, moving from the garden to indoors when it starts to rain, and even then it's freely chopped about, featuring brief illustrations of the films they mention as well as some of the theatre productions when they'd been recorded.
A lot of the talk frequently gets giggly, as one might imagine, and there are more than a few LOL moments - e.g. When discussing Shakespeare's 'Antony and Cleopatra' in which Judi Dench appeared on stage alongside the late Alan Bates, the latter telling Judi D. that he thought Cleo's was a far better part than Antony's, to which they all agreed - with Maggie S. tartly adding "Well, he'd have preferred to have acted as Cleopatra anyway!"
Catty remarks abound though none of it is really malicious. I could have done with just a little more bite and acerbity to some of the remarks though the four were observably conscious of the cameras the whole time, which might understandably have held them back. And, of course, it hardly need saying that the whole thing is unscripted.
Nevertheless, it's superior entertainment at just under an hour and a half, and I've seen too many films of the same length or longer, much longer, which didn't pack even a fraction of the satisfaction which this one gave me........................7.5.
2 hours ago