Ladies In Lavender review

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There's nothing like a dame, so lucky for Charles Dance, he has not one but two of them to lend a little life to his dry directorial debut.

In '30s Cornwall, spinster siblings Judi Dench and Maggie Smith nurture and nurse a young Pole (Daniel Brühl) they find washed up on the beach. It turns out that the lad is actually a violin prodigy whose talent is a joy to the sisters. But maybe it's not just his music they're hot for...

Smitten with her house guest from the get-go, Dench carries off a poignant study of autumn-years yearning. Smith, too, is on extremely good form, juggling warmth with wit as the older sis. But the problem is that it all feels a bit faux Merchant Ivory, and neither star can overcome the stiff, starchy rhythm of Dance's direction and script. A shame, too, that Brühl doesn't recapture the boyish charm of his Good Bye Lenin! turn, which makes the audience wonder exactly what it is that the old girls see in him.

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