11 December 2005 | jsemovieman
The Perfect Escape...Cinematic Fun
As the closing feature of the 2005 St. Louis International Film Festival, "Mrs. Henderson Presents" was shown to a nearly full theatre. Coming from the United Kingdom, the film is not a drama nor is it a comedy. "Mrs. Henderson Presents" is best described as a "dramedy" mixed with a musical. Judi Dench dives into her usual role with ease, playing Laura Henderson. As an upper-class widow left with heaps of money, she decides to purchase a theatre, which she names The Windmill. Through the love-hate relationship between Mrs. Henderson and her theatre manager (the terrific Bob Hoskins), they present the most revolutionary program in England: nude women on stage. "Mrs. Henderson Presents," constantly switches from drama to comedy, but is so skillfully directed by Stephen Frears that it maintains a fluid and graceful tone. This is a film that is told through the eyes of its main character, Laura Henderson, so an unrealistic sense of optimism exists. The message lies in the naïve buoyancy Mrs. Henderson grabs from the continuous tragedy and sadness.
Stephen Frear's new film is truly heartbreaking and tragic, but ironically, is incredibly fun. In "Mrs. Henderson Presents," The Windmill Theatre stands tall like a knight in shining armor to the soldiers and crowds of England. It is also a pleasurable escape that certainly deserves more than one visit.