Despite the powdery condescension of its title, this film is largely a delight, with astonishing performances by English grandes dames Judi Dench and Maggie Smith. It's 1936, and the women play elderly sisters Ursula and Janet, who live together in their childhood home on the seaside cliffs of southwest England. After a violent storm, a young castaway washes ashore, barely alive. The sisters take him in and nurse him back to health. The young man, named Andrea and played by Daniel Bruhl (of Goodbye Lenin!), is Polish, so language is an issue, but the threesome use gestures, and Ursula begins to administer English lessons. As Andrea heals, he ventures into the town; once somebody loans him a fiddle, he's off and running, as he's a talented violinist. Trouble arises when a visiting artist (Natascha McElhone) takes an interest in Andrea. The direction occasionally slips into the sentimental -- no need for the slo-mo, for instance -- but the film is rich with real feeling. And Dench's performance is a heartbreaker.
Director: Charles Dance
Writer: William J. Locke
Producer: Nik Powell, Nicolas Brown and Elizabeth Karlsen
Cast: Maggie Smith, Judi Dench, Daniel BrÃ¼hl, Natascha McElhone, Toby Jones, David Warner, Jack Callow, Gregor Henderson-Begg, Tom Hill and Freddie Jones