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USA: Buena Vista Pictures Distribution
UK: Buena Vista International UK
Cast: Helen Mirren, Julie Walters, Penelope Wilton, Annette Crosbie, Celia Imrie, Linda Bassett, Georgie Glen, Angela Curran, Rosalind March, Ciaran Hinds, John Alderton, Philip Glenister, John-Paul McLeod, Geraldine James, Marc Pickering, George Costigan, Graham Crowden, John Fortune, John Sharian
Director: Nigel Cole
UK: 108 mins
USA Rated: PG-13 for nudity, some language and drug-related material
UK Certificate: 12A contains moderate nudity and sex references
USA Release Date: 2 January 2004
USA Release Date: 19 December 2003 (Limited Release)
UK Release Date: 12 September 2003
UK Release Date: 5 September 2003 (Limited Release - London)
It's January in the quiet, classically English village of Knapely, tucked away in the heart of the Yorkshire Dales. The local Women's Institute - whose motto is 'Enlightenment, Fun and Friendship' - is holding its weekly meeting. This month's guest speaker is an expert on 'socks and the history of tubular legwear'. The women can barely contain their enthusiasm. In February, they are treated to a talk on the joy of, wait for it, rugs.... By May, they're enduring a cheerless two hours on everything you ever wanted to know about broccoli. Close friends Chris (Helen Mirren) and Annie (Julie Walters) decide it is time to shake things up.
The two women have been friends for years despite - or probably because - they are so different. Chris owns a flower shop with her husband, Rod, and is a whirlwind of enthusiasm, full of spontaneity and inspirational - and quite often daft - ideas. Chris acts first and thinks later. Annie, happily married to John and mother of two grown-up children, is a calmer soul; a woman who indulges what Chris gets up to. Annie thinks first and acts later.
When Annie's husband John dies of leukaemia, it's Chris who comes up with a novel way to raise money for the local hospital. Why not make a calendar with twelve women from the Knapely WI - one for each month? Why not have them photographed engaged in a traditional WI activities - baking cakes, pressing apples and knitting? And why not photograph them in the nude?
What might sound like a cheap gimmick, is in fact a tribute to John who always believed that "the last stage of the flower is the most glorious". Soon, Chris and Annie have persuaded their closest allies from the WI to come on board, as well as a local amateur photographer. After making an impassioned plea for support at the national WI annual meeting in London, they go ahead. One week - and several crash diets and hours down the gym - later, the calendar is finished. And, just as Chris promised, it's a beautiful and tasteful tribute to the grace and elegance of mature female beauty.
As the news spreads, the women find themselves caught in a whirl of publicity that shoots them into the spotlight and turns them into instant international celebrities. They are whisked across the Atlantic to Hollywood to appear on the Jay Leno Show. The calendar captures the imagination of the public and Chris, Annie and the girls become an inspiration to millions of middle-aged women. But will fame turn their heads? Will the group stay together? Will Chris and Annie's friendship survive?
Inspired by the true story of the world's first nude Women's Institute calendar, CALENDAR GIRLS is directed by Nigel Cole from a screenplay by Tim Firth and Juliette Towhidi. The producers are Nick Barton and Suzanne Mackie for Harbour Pictures and Buena Vista International.