Judi Dench is the flighty Mrs. Henderson who, bored with widowhood, on a whim buys the rundown Windmill Theatre. Bob Hoskins plays Vivian Van Damm, the opinionated theatre manager who won't let her interfere with his productions, which include an all-nude revue. The first half of the film is a forced concoction, with Dench and Hoskins engaging in obvious, sluggish banter. But when World War II erupts, the film wakes up. Its story becomes more pointed, the musical numbers come to life, and Hoskins and Dench settle deeper into their characters. At its best, "Mrs. Henderson Presents" is a moving tribute to British eccentricity and pluck in the face of calamity. Starring Judi Dench, Bob Hoskins and Kelly Reilly. Directed by Stephen Frears. Written by Martin Sherman. Produced by Norma Heyman. A Weinstein Co. release. Comedy/Drama. Rated R for nudity and brief language. Running time: 106 min
Mrs. Henderson Presents
This fact-based tale of an eccentric widow who purchased a dilapidated theatre and titillated British society with risqué fare in the 1930s and '40s is something of a change of pace for director Stephen Frears. It's a comparatively light effort after "Dirty Pretty Things," and it takes a while to get going, but it pays off in the end.