F.I.L.M. of the Week (May 28, 2010)

28 05 2010

I’m officially out for summer! Senior year, baby! It’s time to celebrate with the first “F.I.L.M. of the Week” of summer vacation! This calls for a comedy – something like “Mrs. Henderson Presents” ought to do the trick. Starring the always incredible Judi Dench in her third of four Oscar-nominated performances of the ’00s, the movie tells the story of a widow with nothing to do but create a stir. Set against the backdrop of British boys going to fight in World War II, director Stephen Frears provides some drama if you’re looking for a little of that as well.

The movie opens with the funeral of Mr. Henderson, where his widow (Dench) is dealing more with boredom than grief. She scoffs at the idea that she should stop her life to observe a period of mourning. After trying her hand at the conventional hobbies of older women, she discovers she needs to be entertained in more lively and energetic ways. Along with the help of Vivian Van Damm (Bob Hoskins), Mrs. Henderson opens a theater that revolutionizes the business in London first by presenting their shows non-stop.

But the second way is what the movie concerns itself with the most, and that was Mrs. Henderson’s bold decision to present nude girls in the show.  Using some skillful connections associated with her status, she gets permission to let the clothes come off as long as it remains art – which means that the girls had to be in tableaus when exposed.  It’s clear that Mrs. Henderson has a reason behind doing this other than making money or creating controversy, both of which she manages to do anyways.  The reason becomes more clear as the crowd that packs her theater becomes less of the musical theater group and more young men, most of whom are heading off to fight a war.

“Mrs. Henderson Presents” is one of those gems that does have something to offer pretty much everyone.  It’s well-made, well-acted, and very entertaining.  It has great vaudevillian music and some spectacularly choreographed sequences on the stage.  Dench is funny and poignant as the outrageous Mrs. Henderson, and she and Bob Hoskins mix very well.  As foes, foils, and friends, they play every scene with the right energy.  Not to mention, this movie isn’t sore on the eyes (if you get what I’m saying).