Calendar Girls tells the true story of a group of women – members of a women's institute in Yorkshire – who decide to pose nude for a calendar in order to raise money for a local hospital. The film sets the liberating impact this project has on its particpants against the disgust of those opposed to the calendar.
Calendar Girls is based on the true story of a group of women from a Yorkshire village who decided to participate in a 'bare all discreetly' calendar. After the death of Annie's (Julie Walters) husband John – an excellent John Alderton – from cancer, her friend Chris, Helen Mirren, talks a number of their friends, fellow members of the local Women's Institute into posing nude on a calendar to raise money for the hospital where John was treated. After rather perfunctory hesitations and a search for the right photographer, the girls are lining up to pose for January, February etc. much to the chagrin of the more proper members of the Institute.
This rather charming if less than sensational story is dignified by some top performances by Mirren and Walters and a swag of Britain's female stalwarts, among them Celia Imre, Linda Basset, Penelope Wilton and Annette Crosbie. Unlike The Full Monty, the gals bare all fairly quickly, the rest of the film deals with the ups and downs of their success. The decent screenplay by Tim Firth and Juliette Towhidi is handled efficiently by Nigel Cole who made Saving Grace. There is a rather incoherent sub-plot involving Chris' son that seems unnecessary but the film avoids nauseating sentimentality and has quite a few genuine laughs.
Comments by David Stratton: There are no real surprises here, except for the fact that this is more somber than its Full Monty-like plot might suggest. The performances are all immaculate, but it makes you wonder what's wrong with society when a nude calendar is the only way to raise a considerable amount of money to furnish a hospital waiting room. (The Movie Show nude calendar for 2005 is currently in the planning stages).