This review that follows will be a first for me on this site. It will be the first review of a documentary and what a great one to start with. It’s Nothing Like a Dame, which has us in the company of the great women of stage and screen.
In the English countryside, we meet with icons Judi Dench, Maggie Smith, Joan Plowright and Eileen Atkins. All of them Dames and acting greats. They are conversing and reminiscing at the country house of Plowright, that she owned with her late husband Laurence Olivier. And boy is it entertaining to see them all together and in fine form. With careers spanning decades, there is no shortage of conversation here. It’s such a simple idea of watching these four wonderful ladies reflecting on life and their careers, which are extremely eventful.
Director Roger Michell keeps things low key and lets the ladies do their thing. This in turn brings out wonderfully natural results as Michell doesn’t feel the need to be flashy to be seen as good. He knows that the strength of these four dames is all he needs for this compelling documentary. I seriously want to see this quartet in another movie together. It would be a complete riot and so enjoyable. You can feel their friendship and years of experience are strong and full of energy and wisdom. They are by turns funny, irreverent, classy and humorous, with plenty of time for deep reflection on life and family. Hearing them speak about family has a certain poignancy to it. You can see the humanity of their situations and even though they are famous, they are still very much down to Earth in the grand scope of things. They’ve all seen a lot and experienced a lot too and it definitly shows their resilience. And Maggie Smith is on point with her acerbic wit, that is matched by Judi Dench( just check out her reaction to a medical worker treating her like just another old biddy). The other ladies round out this luminous quartet with grace, honesty and good humour. No one is more important than the other, it’s a celebration of them all. Whether together or apart, I could watch these ladies do anything. The quartet is marvellous; serenely bouncing off one another with memories and wisecracks. You just have to bathe in their anecdotes that run the gamut from happy to sad. Many areas are bound to bring some feelings of tears, mainly the fact that Plowright’s vision is failing and she occasionally looses track of conversation. But she still remains as strong as an ox and dispenses kindly wisdom to all. As all the ladies say, age is just a number.
I wholeheartedly recommend this documentary to anyone who enjoys watching actors reflect and fans of these amazing women.