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Shirley Valentine (1989)


Cast: Pauline Collins, Tom Conti

Rating: 14A

Run time: 108 mins

Genre: Comedy

Verdict: Beautiful (see rating system)

This gem of a movie about middle-aged angst remains side-splittingly funny and true to life.

Fresh from winning a Broadway Tony Award for her performance in the stage version, English actress Pauline Collins recreated the magic all over again on the big screen in 1989, and was nominated for the Best Actress Oscar (won by Jessicca Tandy for Driving Miss Daisy).

Collins plays the Shirley of the title, a bored middle-aged Liverpool housewife who laments the loss of passion in her marriage to Joe (Bernard Hill). Reduced to talking to the kitchen wall while she prepares Joe's supper, Shirley reflects on her lost youth and wonders if life has any surprises - or joy - left.

Joe once cared, but now he's grown insensitive to Shirley's feeling and takes her for granted, so Shirley seizes the chance to leave him behind for a taste of adventure when her friend Jane (Alison Steadman) wins a trip for two to Greece.

Barely has the cork come out of the wine bottle on the sun-kissed islands than Shirley meets handsome village local Costas (Tom Conti), a rogue lothario with a smooth line of chat for lonely English women on holiday. Soon, Shirley's two-week vacation turns into the trip of a lifetime, and returning home isn't in the cards.

But what about Joe?

Thank God Hollywood didn't get its hands on this and ruin it. Instead of some stick-thin babe from Beverly Hills, we get Collins, who fearlessly plays the role as she is - slightly overweight and frayed around the edges. She's all the more vulnerable, gorgeous and appealing for it.

A hilarious and ultimately touching take on the human condition - I just wished Paramount had included some cast interviews or other extras.



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