Let’s face it: it has been a tough few weeks for womanhood. Or maybe years? Centuries? And while we are NOT going to get into the details here, we all need something to soothe our respective souls right now. Something smart. funny, and life-affirming and, well, also fun (remember fun?). Enter: Tea With The Dames, which is just what the doctor ordered. The movie equivalent of a cure for the common anxiety, this is a major motion picture / home movie in which Dames Judi Dench, Maggie Smith, Eileen Atkins and Joan Plowright don’t have that much tea, or much of anything really (a glass of champagne does pop-up a little too late in the game), but sit around and chat at Plowright’s gorgeous home.
The most physical action (the women range in age from 83 to 88) comes in the form of a threat of rain, which prompts them to move indoors, but the quip and charm Olympics on display is nothing short of sensational (especially keeping in mind that the women range in age from 83 to 88, with Plowright’s sight and most of her hearing long gone).
The dish includes topics from being married to Laurence Olivier, to playing Cleopatra (in Canada, says Smith with a smirk that would shrivel a 1000 Kavanaughs), to aging, death, annoying directors, more annoying critics, unflattering lighting, flirty co-stars and more – with bursts of song in between, and a fair amount of name-dropping (namely about those flirty co-stars) which results in the equivalent of a People Magazine double issue for the PBS Masterpiece devotees.
I am not going to pretend this is for everyone (it IS definitely for me, as our film editor acutely deduced when offering to me for review), but this is for you if you have seen ALL of Great British Bake-Off and Downton Abbey. This is for you if you enjoy gorgeous homes, crisp accents, and great pashminas during moments where Judi Dench has a reason to call herself a “menopausal dwarf” in the context of being cast to play a legendary beauty.
Things get real at times, funny often, even heartrending, and the cumulative effect makes it feel as if you actually could be hanging out with them. It also makes you wish to be in your 80s, with a full life of success and some choice regrets to reflect on and a British Country Estate for you and your friends to hang out it, with our without cameras.
It also, and this is the big one, makes you feel mostly good about being a woman. Which is essentially a miracle.
And so, on this first weekend of October, which comes hot on the heels of THAT September (goodbye and good riddance), do yourself a favor and spend some time with the dames. It will help. I hope.