The untold story of the last days in the tragic times of Oscar Wilde, a person who observes his own failure with ironic distance and regards the difficulties that beset his life with detachment and humor.
In early 18th century England, a frail Queen Anne occupies the throne and her close friend, Lady Sarah, governs the country in her stead. When a new servant, Abigail, arrives, her charm endears her to Sarah.
Dames Eileen Atkins, Judi Dench, Joan Plowright and Maggie Smith have let the cameras in on a friendship that goes back more than half a century. The four acting greats discuss their careers and reminisce about their humble beginnings in the theatre.
A quite charming look back at the careers of four legendary British actresses. Joan Plowright makes the most poignant comments - but often felt at a distance from the others (this was mostly down to her impaired sight and hearing though.) Eileen Atkins is chirpy, and comes up with a few witty quips. The film is surprisingly funny and irreverent.
Judi Dench and Maggie Smith are definitely the highlight. Truly vivacious women, and their friendship is obviously genuine. They seem to be always reminiscing some old private joke, which is kept a secret from the audience. Mischievous smiles and knowing glances constantly shared - a better documentary could likely be made by just focusing on them.
It's a good idea for a film - and perhaps could be revisited with other "acting Dames." Helen Mirren, Diana Rigg, Julie Walters, etc. The great Vanessa Redgrave ( who makes a fleeting appearance here in archival footage) would have been an interesting addition to the conversation - although she did of course refuse the offer of a damehood.
The film lacked in some places. The topic of conversation was all a bit dainty. Surely these four women must have experienced a lot over such great careers - so it's a shame the opportunity for serious discussion was missed. Far too much time was spent fawning over Laurence Olivier. It's understandable he should come up (having worked with all four women, and been married to one of them) but this got a bit tiring after a while. Overall, I enjoyed the film but really expected a more thoughtful or contemplative look at the life of an actress. Perhaps more direct questioning or moderation would have got more out of the Dames.
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