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April 3, 2006 | by  | in Film |
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Mrs Henderson Presents

Based on a true story, Mrs Henderson Presents is a fantastic period film about the history of the Windmill Theatre in London’s West End. I really enjoyed the nearly full cinema, but as I scanned the crowd I realised it was full of conservatively dressed over-40 year olds. I felt rather out of place watching this film alone, but my comforting block of Cadbury chocolate gave me plenty of company.

Set in 1931, Dame Judi Dench plays the somewhat eccentric title character, the newly widowed Mrs Henderson. Thinking of life beyond her deceased husband is taking a little getting used to, but she has buckets of money to roll around in. Having the comfort of a privileged life, Mrs Henderson now has to think of what to do with her inherited wealth. Mrs Henderson impulsively decides to buy the Windmill Theatre after seeing its ‘for sale’ sign. She hires Vivian Van Damm (Bob Hoskins) to run the performances, and the rest is history – a very rich one at that.

This is a stunning film visually. The performers’ costumes are very beautiful (the clothed performers anyway). It was very comforting though, that the nudity was not limited to women. I’m sick of watching films that exploit the female figure, letting them parade around as eye-candy. The nudity in this film is very tasteful, because Lord Chamberlain controlled the licences for theatre performances in the 30s, and he declared that the nude performers were not allowed to move. They were art- sculptures, paintings, and statues. The nudity is not risqué, hence the M rating.

Don’t watch this film for the nudity though, I’ve heard that’s what pornos are for. Watch this film for its brilliant depiction of the history of the Windmill Theatre, for the stunning costumes, and for yourself – you won’t be disappointed.

Directed by Stephen Frears
Rialto Cinema

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