Tea With The Dames film review: a delightful experience


Maggie Smith, Joan Plowright, Eileen Atkins and Judi Dench in Tea With The Dames.
Maggie Smith, Joan Plowright, Eileen Atkins and Judi Dench in Tea With The Dames.

TO some, 90 minutes spent with a group of gossiping octogenarians might sound as enticing as a cold cup of Earl Grey.

But theatre and film buffs are sure to get a kick out of this rare opportunity to eavesdrop on some of the industry’s best and most respected actresses, who happen to be life-long mates, having a light-hearted catch up.

British entertainment industry royalty Dames Eileen Atkins, Judi Dench, Joan Plowright and Maggie Smith, who have known each other since their teens and 20s, get together at Plowright’s country cottage for a girls’ arvo over tea.

Director Roger Michell and his film crew were allowed special access to film it.

The legends reminisce about their time in the theatre, the roles they played and productions they appeared in throughout the years and their combined 200 years experience.

While the trip down memory lane offers some lovely banter between the ladies, amusing anecdotes, the occasional insight and several laugh out loud moments due to their dry wit (particularly Smith), this is a lighter serving than half a scone with a tiny dollop of jam and cream.

Anyone after scandalous gossip about former co-stars or shattering revelations about the industry will leave the cinema disappointed.

This remains a perfectly respectable gathering of respectable ladies.

It is a delightful experience, particularly since Plowright has not been on screen since 2009, her failing eyesight minimising opportunities (also, as they jokingly note, Dench gets all the roles).

What is undeniable is that these women are an asset to the industry and this documentary serves as a reminder to the entertainment industry not to toss out the immensely valuable old to make room for the youthful new.

THE ESSENTIALS

Tea With The Dames (M)

Directed by: Roger Michell

Starring: Dame Judi Dench, Dame Maggie Smith, Dame Joan Plowright, Dame Eileen Atkins

Three and a half stars

Review by Julian Wright

In cinemas now