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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 Russian woman, Olga. Written by
Delicate and unpretentious, this story of an old lady's infatuation with a young violinist is like a refreshing whiff of air amidst the sultry stench of brouhaha "fat-cash" movies that contaminate the silver screen this summer. Its overall impressionistic and bland atmosphere of old rural England with seemingly plain, but emotionally tense story has a mollifying effect on our senses, long warped by clink-clank of special effects and overblown plots.
If one has to compare this film with other forms of art, "Ladies in Lavender" feels like a fine piece of vintage literature, transfered on screen and complemented with exquisite acting and gorgeous music. At the same time, it is so much "slice-of-life" story thanks to meticulous nuances in depicting the characters' lifestyle and subtle performances of the film's main stars.
Contrary to some reviews, I don't have an impression that the story is deficient or lacks in details. I find it rather complete and coherent. Moreover, I think that giving any additional background information on the characters would have only diluted the story. The director's objective is clearly to focus on the internal feelings of the two old sisters and for that enough information is provided in their own comments. After all, it's not the story of the stranger that is so important; but the story of their loneliness and attachment to this young man that is the cornerstone of the plot.
Not as shattering as some more action-driven movies, this film is a good treat for those who want to get away from the din of our modern life and enjoy some excellent music for precious one and a half hours.
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