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Ladies in Lavender: Wikis


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Ladies in Lavender

Original Poster
Directed by Charles Dance
Produced by Nicolas Brown,
Elizabeth Karlsen
Written by Charles Dance
based on a story by William J. Locke
Starring Judi Dench
Maggie Smith
Daniel Brühl
Natascha McElhone
Music by Nigel Hess
Distributed by Lakeshore International
Release date(s) 12 November 2004 (UK)
29 April 2005 (US)
Running time 103 minutes
Language English
Gross revenue $20,439,793 (USD)

Ladies in Lavender is a 2004 British drama film written and directed by Charles Dance, who based his screenplay on a short story by William J. Locke.



Set in picturesque coastal Cornwall, in a tight-knit fishing village in the 1930s, Ladies in Lavender stars Judi Dench and Maggie Smith play the leading roles of sisters Ursula (Dench) and Janet Widdington (Smith). Andrea is played by Daniel Brühl (Good Bye Lenin!). A gifted young Polish violinist from Krakow, Andrea is bound for America when he is swept overboard by a storm. When the Widdington sisters discover the handsome stranger on the beach below their house, they nurse him back to health. However, the presence of the musically talented young man disrupts the peaceful lives of Ursula and Janet and the community in which they live.


William Locke's original story was published in 1916. The title is a play on words of the phrase Lace in Lavender and refers to the custom of sprinkling dried lavender among clothing packed in storage to keep it smelling fresh and keeping moths away. In Poland and Germany, Andrea is a feminine name with the respective masculine counterparts Andrzej and Andreas. At the end of Locke's original story, the sisters never hear from Andrea after he departs for London.

The film marked the directorial debut of actor Charles Dance. Longtime friends Maggie Smith and Judi Dench were appearing together in a play in London's West End when Dance first approached them about the project. They immediately accepted his offer without even reading the script. The film is the first English-language role for Continental actor Daniel Brühl.

Exteriors were filmed in Cadgwith, Helston, St. Ives, and Prussia Cove in Cornwall. Interiors were filmed at the Pinewood Studios in Buckinghamshire. The violin music played by Andrea, including compositions by Felix Mendelssohn, Niccolò Paganini, Jules Massenet, Claude Debussy, Pablo de Sarasate, and Johann Sebastian Bach, is performed by Joshua Bell.

Principal cast


Ladies in Lavender grossed £2,604,852 (UKP) in the UK and $6,759,422 (USD) in the US (on limited release). Its total worldwide gross was $20,439,793 (USD).[1] It received its New York premiere at the 4th Annual Tribeca Film Festival.[2] Prior to its release in the UK, the film was shown at the Taormina Film Festival and the Toronto Film Festival. It was released as Les Dames de Cornouailles in France, Der Duft von Lavendel in Germany, Lavendelflickorna in Sweden, and Parfum de lavande in French-speaking Canada. Both Judi Dench and Maggie Smith were nominated Best European Actress at the European Film Awards. Dench was nominated for the ALFS Award for British Actress of the Year by the London Film Critics Circle. The film was positively received by the critics.

In his review in the New York Times, Stephen Holden said, "[Dench and Smith] sink into their roles as comfortably as house cats burrowing into a down quilt on a windswept, rainy night . . . This amiably far-fetched film . . . heralds the return of the Comfy Movie (increasingly rare nowadays), the cinematic equivalent of a visit from a cherished but increasingly dithery maiden aunt. In this fading, sentimental genre peopled with grandes dames (usually English) making "grande" pronouncements, the world revolves around tea, gardening and misty watercolor memories." [3]

Roger Ebert of the Chicago Sun-Times called the film "perfectly sweet and civilized . . . It's a pleasure to watch Smith and Dench together; their acting is so natural it could be breathing." [4]

In The Guardian, Peter Bradshaw observed that "despite a bit of shortbread-sugary emotion and an ending that fizzles out disappointingly, there's some nice period detail and decent lines in Charles Dance's directing debut," [5] while Philip French of The Observer commented on the "beautiful setting, a succession of implausible incidents, and characteristically excellent work from Smith (all suppression and stoicism) and Dench (exuding unfulfilled yearning)." [6]

Peter Keough of the Boston Phoenix said, "This exercise in scenery and music is as innocuous as a nosegay." [7]

In the Chicago Tribune, Robert K. Elder awarded the film two out of a possible four stars and added, "[it] exemplifies that kind of polite, underdramatic Masterpiece Theatre staging that can either provide a surgical examination of English society or bore the pants off you. Ladies in Lavender does a bit of both . . . director Dance's momentum fades soon after Andrea's ankle mends, and we're left with a vague back story involving Andrea's intent to emigrate to America, though the mystery of how he ended up in Cornwall is never revisited nor revealed. [He] becomes sort of a blank character, a personality on whom we can impose our own curiosity and emotions . . . as compelling and original as this theme is, it's not enough to keep our attention, no matter how lovely the ladies in lavender are." [8]


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