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Saturday, October 18, 2008

Shirley Valentine (1989)



Shirley's a middle-aged Liverpool housewife, who finds herself talking to the wall while she prepares her husband's chip'n'egg, wondering what happened to her life. She compares scenes in her current life with what she used to be like and feels she's stagnated and in a rut. But when her best friend wins an all-expenses-paid vacation to Greece for two, Shirley begins to see the world, and herself, in a different light.

SHIRLEY VALENTINE is a gentle charmer of a comedy, based on the acclaimed play by Willy Russell. Pauline Collins (of UPSTAIRS DOWNSTAIRS fame) plays the title character, a role she received much acclaim for on the London and New York stage.

Shirley Valentine is a sparky and charming yet downtrodden woman in suburban London. Her husband thinks she's "gone `round the pipe", her children have left the nest, and she leads a mostly-solitary life talking to her kitchen wall. In the throes of what can only be described as a "no-life mid-life crisis" , Shirley takes off with her best friend (Alison Steadman) for a two-week holiday in Greece. There, she has a fling with a smooth-talking bar owner (Tom Conti) and comes to know the real pleasures that life has to offer. And, more importantly, Shirley Valentine comes to know herself.

Pauline Collins turns in a fabulous performance as Shirley (she was nominated for the 1989 `Best Actress' Oscar but lost to Jessica Tandy in DRIVING MISS DAISY).

Tom Conti bravely plays the thankless role of Costas, with Joanna Lumley, Sylvia Syms and Julia McKenzie all offering top performances in well-written supporting roles. Bernard Hill plays Shirley's husband in a cleverly-nuanced performance. Gillian Kearney is a delight as the younger Shirley during the highschool flashback sequence.

If you loved EDUCATING RITA you'll adore SHIRLEY VALENTINE.
By Byron Kolln

(pictures from another source)

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