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A little-old-lady film to warm the cockles of your heart. In a tiny, straight-laced, Swiss village, where everyone knows what everyone else is up to, where people peer out at their neighbors from behind the curtains, a widow opens a sexy-underwear shop and causes a stir. The village divides along 'partisan' lines, with the widow's girlfriends pitching in to help, versus the local politician and vicar who attempt to seize the moral high ground.
The ladies at the center of the story are played by several fine character-actresses and give sparkling performances. One of the charms of the story is that it doesn't have a bad guy; the meanest man in town merely has a bad temper and a cantankerous father to look after.
The English title, Late Bloomers, plays on a double meaning: the little old ladies are late bloomers in the sense of realizing their dreams in retirement age; and "bloomers" in the sense of ladies' underwear. The original title also plays on a double meaning: people on the last lap of life, and yet timelessly young.
While ostensibly a microscopic look at Swiss village life and mentality, what allows it to reach out and speak to a wider audience is that it is a parable about knee-jerk conservatism versus the irrepressible need for change. The Swiss dialect, while contributing enormously to the film's charm and believability, will also, regrettably, limit its reach. As with Bienvenue Chez les Ch'tis (France, 2008) aka Willkomen Bei Den Ch'tis, it will have to be suitably subtitled or dubbed in an appropriately rural dialect to attain the recognition it deserves. Hollywood would only over-produce it, I fear, and drain it of the village charm which is essential to its message.
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