Calendar Girls is one of those reality-type documentaries that profile a small group of people who share an ‘odd’ lifestyle that makes voyeurs of us all. As we look slightly dumbfounded at what is on the screen, we try and conjure up what aliens would think of our planet if this were the first people on earth they ever met.
Of course, it all happens in south Florida where people flock to retire to live in sunny climes but forget what to do when they are not just sitting around their condo’s pool. It just takes one person to be a leader to put some purpose back into their lives.
In this case, it’s Katherine Shortlidge a woman of indefinite age and unceasing passion who is the leader of the Calendar Girls, This troupe of over-60-year-old women who have never sung or danced in their lives before now, eagerly slip into their pink thrilly skirts and glittery unicorn headpieces to perform shows wherever they can.
Bossy Katherine who takes the Girls a tad too seriously has them all on regular training and rehearsal schedules for the over 100 performances per year. Apart from them all being roughly the same age, they are an oddball group. Some of the wealthy ones live in gated communities, whilst others live in trailer parks. One of the more colorful ladies has just joined after her release from jail.
So when they have a show to do their enthusiasm and energy kinds of cover up their lack of real talent …. and after all some of the venues they play such as Seniors Centres the bemused audience can always drift off. There is no mistaking the joy they bring to a whole different variety of audiences but really we know that the Girls are performing for themselves. That and raising funds to pay for service dogs for Veterans.
The film is surprisingly made by two Swedish filmmakers Maria Loohufvud and Love Martinsen and it comes into their own when their camera captures some of the ‘girl’s off duty and catches up with each other’s lives. Aging is always on the agenda, and so too is death, having a sense of freedom is vital to them. Especially the costume designer with her obnoxious dogmatic husband who makes you realize that so many of us are close to being featured on Dateline.
It’s a wee feel-good film that will no doubt be soaked up eagerly by other ladies who may be needing a hobby like this to center their lives. We laugh along with The Calendar Girls most of the time …… but will confess we guiltily laugh at them too
Review : Roger Walker-Dack
Editor in Chief : Queerguru
Member of G.A.L.E.C.A. (Gay & Lesbian Entertainment Critics Association) and NLGJA The Association of LGBT
Journalists. and The Online Film Critics Society. Ex Contributung Editor The Gay Uk &Contributor Edge Media
Former CEO and Menswear Designer of Roger Dack Ltd in the UK
one of the hardest-working journalists in the business' Michael Goff of Towleroad