Ladies in Lavender.

November 12th, 2004


Ladies in Lavender.

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Two sisters befriend a mysterious foreigner who washes up on the beach of their 1930's Cornish seaside village.

Release Year: 2004

Rating: 7.0/10 (5,222 voted)

Critic's Score: 61/100

Director: Charles Dance

Stars: Judi Dench, Maggie Smith, Daniel Brühl

Taking place in pre-war England, aging sisters Ursula and Janet live peacefully in their cottage on the shore of Cornwall. One morning following a violent storm, the sisters spot from their garden a nearly-drowned man lying on the beach. They nurse him back to health, and discover that he is Polish. Communicating in broken German while they teach him English, they learn his name is Andrea and that he is a particularly gifted violinist. His boat was on its way to America, where he is headed to look for a better life. It doesn't take long for them to become attached to Andrea, and they dote on him. Other townspeople, however, have their suspicions, especially when he befriends a German woman, Olga.

Writers: William J. Locke, Charles Dance

Judi Dench - Ursula
Maggie Smith - Janet
Daniel Brühl - Andrea
Freddie Jones - Jan Pendered
Gregor Henderson-Begg - Luke Pendered
Miriam Margolyes - Dorcas
David Warner - Dr. Francis Mead
Clive Russell - Adam Penruddocke
Richard Pears - Barry
Natascha McElhone - Olga Daniloff
Iain Marshall - Fisherman (as Ian Marshall)
Toby Jones - Hedley
Trevor Ray - Very Old Man 1
John Boswall - Very Old Man 2
Joanna Dickens - Mrs. Pendered

Taglines: They saved a stranger from the sea and in return he stole their hearts.


Official Website: Filmax [Spain] |

Release Date: 12 November 2004

Filming Locations: Cadgwith, Cornwall, England, UK

Opening Weekend: £423,313 (UK) (14 November 2004) (307 Screens)

Gross: $6,759,422 (USA) (30 October 2005)

Technical Specs

Runtime:  | Australia:  | Australia: (theatrical version)  | Argentina:

Did You Know?

Visa d'exploitation en France # 114509.

Anachronisms: Mains electricity, gas lighting and indoor flush toilets were unlikely to be present in remote village houses in 1936 Cornwall.

[they have finished dinner, still waiting for Andrea to return]
Janet Widdington: I'm going to phone Pendered.
Ursula Widdington: All right.
Janet Widdington: [Janet goes to the phone] Trevannic 412, please, Mrs. Pengelley... Hello? Mr. Pendered?... Yeah, it's - it's Janet Widdington... Yeah, well - hello... Yes, we're rather worried about Andrea. We were expecting him for supper. And we...
[her face falls as she listens]
Janet Widdington: Oh, I - oh, I see... No, no - we didn't know... Yes... Well, thank you.
[she hangs up]
Ursula Widdington: Janet, what's happened?
Janet Widdington: They've gone.
Ursula Widdington: What do you mean?

User Review

Maggie Smith is the understated star

Rating: 7/10

This film bursts into life in a few electrifying scenes - but these scenes are perhaps muted by the general leisurely air of the whole.

What can be said is that this film belongs to Maggie Smith: although Judi Dench has the lovelorn role of the smitten sister, it is Dame Maggie who has the wider variety of emotions, the presence, and the charisma which gives the film the energy it needs to involve the viewer. A case in point is the scene where Dame Judi has her point of emotional release - and Dame Maggie tops it with just the slightest nuance of phrase. Indeed, hers is a performance of subtlety and delicacy, so understated and insightful, that it recalls the outstanding work that she did in "The Lonely Passion of Judith Hearne". If it was up to me, Dame Maggie would be right up there in contention for the Oscar and BAFTA.

She is, of course, perfectly paired with Dame Judi, who creates a portrayal of both pathos and charm. There is such rapport between the two that it wipes away memories of the caricatures of "Tea With Mussolini" and replaces it with genuine truth and humanity. The two dames are underscored by the comic bluster of Miriam Margolyes and the suspicious lusting of David Warner.

This is a film of emotion and elegance. If it lacks narrative drive and dynamic then it is more than made up for by the space created for the talents of the actors. It is a film which lives on in the memory - and for that we mainly have to thank the performance of Maggie Smith.


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