MRS. HENDERSON PRESENTS
AN UNFORTUNATE THUMBS DOWN FILM REVIEW RATING!
This film came very close to receiving a "thumbs up" but I just couldn’t pull up enough good qualities about it to render such a personal verdict. And there ARE good qualities to it.
First and foremost is that it was directed by the estimable Stephen Frears. Having fallen in love with High Fidelity and Dangerous Liaisons (both directed by Frears), I’d hoped to find a similar quality here. No dice. Although filmed relatively well, the storyline was choppy and veered away from the main character (Judi Dench as Mrs. Henderson) far too often. The focus of the film felt as though it were drifting through a fog. Personally I would’ve enjoyed seeing the WW II veterans’ viewpoint on the new nudeness of this raucous stage. The emotional impact surely would’ve been greater as we see how many “boys” return to Mrs. Henderson’s theater and how many …don’t.
The second positive for the movie is that it has Judi Dench in the prime role and Bob Hoskins (Mr. Van Damm) as the main supporting actor. The two fed off each other extremely well and it showed how two people, who were probably in love with each other, denied their feelings for one another in a time of greater righteousness. But, even though they played well off each other, their respective roles were lost amongst the "out of focus" film. Many times I felt the attention was on them when it should’ve been somewhere else, and vice-versa.
At 103 minutes long, the movie was short-changed. This was a pivotal moment in world history as well as in London’s theater history. Compressing it so drastically really made the whole film shallow and limited. Combining theatrical nudity and the horrors of wartime should’ve been explored much more in-depth.
It’s really a shame. I loved the history of the times and the story surrounding The Windmill Theater (Mrs. Henderson’s purchase), but this flick didn’t give me enough of either.
Oscar Nominated: Best Performance by an Actress in a leading role
Oscar Nominated: Costume Design
Bafta Award Nominee: Best Screenplay
Bafta Award Nominee: Best Actress
Bafta Award Nominee: Best Costume Design
Golden Globe Award Nominee: Best Motion Picture - Musical or Comedy
Golden Globe Award Nominee: Best Performance by an actor (Bob Hoskins)
Golden Globe Award Nominee: Best Performance by an actress (Judi Dench)