A young man washes ashore in a Cornish seaside village that could pass for the One Hundred Acre Woods and is nursed back to health by spinster sisters Ursula and Janet Widdington (Judi Dench and Maggie Smith). “She were a cracker 40 year ago,” says an old man with an Irish drawl about Ursula, who takes care of Andrea (Daniel Brühl) as if she were nursing a lover back to health. Days later, Ursula is haunted by a dream of her younger self rolling in the hay with a man that looks an awful lot like Andrea; though she never actually gets busy with Andrea, her fascination with this mysterious stranger, who turns out to be an accomplished violinist from Poland, causes all sorts of friction between the sisters. The nature of this hostility—like Janet’s contempt for a local German woman (Natascha McElhone) who’s drawn to Andrea’s music like Bugs Bunny being led to a piping bowl of carrot stew—remains a mystery, but if the film doesn’t feel as if it has a care in the world, that’s more or less the point. Set sometime during the mid-‘30s, this adaptation of a William J. Locke story evokes a seemingly secret place on the map where life is still unaffected by the events unfolding in the rest of Europe. It’s all very minor, but the film is wonderfully acted (especially by Dench) and casts a lovely spell. It also never feels cloying in spite of its inherent cuteness. At the very least, it’s more sensitive to the experience of growing old than more Lucky-Charmed productions of its kind like Waking Ned Devine and Calendar Girls.
- Charles Dance
- Charles Dance
- Judi Dench, Maggie Smith, Daniel Brühl, Miriam Margolyes, Natascha McElhone, David Warner, Toby Jones
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