Shirley Valentine

"Good"

Shirley Valentine Review


As a one-woman play, Shirley Valentine wowed them on both sides of the Atlantic, with star Pauline Collins picking up awards and accolades. The film version strives for the same kind of theater-style intimacy, with Collins breaking the fourth wall to chat with the audience just as she did on stage. It doesn't always work, but few other chick flicks have the ability to make middle-aged women laugh and cry as much as this one does.

Pity poor Shirley Valentine-Bradshaw, a blowsy mid-40ish Liverpudlian housewife whose indifferent husband Joe (Bernard Hill) and sullen daughter treat her like hired help. So lonely is Shirley that she frequently talks to her kitchen walls in order to keep some kind of conversation going.

When her friend Jane (Alison Steadman) wins a trip for two to Greece, Shirley makes what for her is a gigantic decision to tag along despite the complaints of everyone around her. After prepping plenty of food for her shocked husband, she's off to seek out some well-deserved fun in the sun. Upon their arrival in Mykonos, Jane has no trouble embarking on sexy flings, but Shirley feels stifled and embarrassed by all the other ugly British tourists who colonize her hotel and act like imperious boors. She's having trouble relaxing.

The warm sunlight eventually starts to work its magic, and Shirley encounters Costas (Tom Conti), a local restaurant owner with a thick black moustache who offers enough sexual magnetism to get Shirley thinking. She's no dope, as she frequently turns and tells the camera. She's just trying to reconnect with herself, to remember the young woman she used to be (we even get a few glimpses of a wisecracking young Shirley to show us how morose she's become over the years).

Costas and Shirley strike up a casual affair, and even after it falls apart, Shirley is content to work as a waitress in his seaside restaurant and contemplate a future that includes neither Joe nor Liverpool.

Shirley's melancholy is leavened by her biting wit, and she often blurts out barbed analogies that must have gone over big on stage but seem sort of clunky on screen. "I think sex is like supermarkets, you know, overrated," she says. "Just a lot of pushing and shoving and you still come out with very little at the end." Rim shot! "I think that marriage is like the Middle East -- there's no solution." Tell it, sister! Collins is totally winning in the role, but Conti, on the other hand, is a comic cliché, acting out every dumb macho Greek stereotype and coming across as far less authentic than Collins. No matter how desperate and disconnected Shirley feels, it's hard to believe she'd let this Zorba wannabe get inside her head.

So think of Shirley Valentine as "Educating Rita under the Tuscan Sun." Women will enjoy it more than men, and older women will enjoy it more than younger women, but don't worry, Shirley has enough comic singers for everyone.

My parents went to Greece and all I got was this lousy burro.



Shirley Valentine

Facts and Figures

Run time: 108 mins

In Theaters: Wednesday 30th August 1989

Distributed by: Paramount Home Video

Reviews

Contactmusic.com: 3 / 5

Rotten Tomatoes: 67%
Fresh: 8 Rotten: 4

IMDB: 7.2 / 10

Cast & Crew

Director:

Producer:

Starring: as Shirley Valentine-Bradshaw, as Costas, as Gillian, as Jane, as Marjorie, as Headmistress, as Joe Bradshaw

Also starring:

Contactmusic


Links



Advertisement

New Movies

Jackie Movie Review

Jackie Movie Review

Rather than make a standard biopic about the most famous First Lady in American history,...

Split Movie Review

Split Movie Review

After a few badly received sci-fi blockbusters, M. Night Shyamalan returned to his earthier style...

xXx: Return of Xander Cage Movie Review

xXx: Return of Xander Cage Movie Review

It's been 15 years since Vin Diesel walked away from his XXX role, killing off...

Manchester by the Sea Movie Review

Manchester by the Sea Movie Review

This may not be the cheeriest movie of the season, but it's so skilfully written,...

Live By Night Movie Review

Live By Night Movie Review

Ben Affleck launched his directing career 10 years ago with his film of Dennis Lehane's...

La La Land Movie Review

La La Land Movie Review

After storming awards season with Whiplash two years ago, writer-director Damien Chazelle returns with something...

Assassin's Creed Movie Review

Assassin's Creed Movie Review

Hopes were high that this film might finally crack the curse of movies based on...

Advertisement
Silence Movie Review

Silence Movie Review

Faith is a topic Martin Scorsese can't quite shake, courting controversy with complex films like...

A Monster Calls Movie Review

A Monster Calls Movie Review

A difficult movie to market, this isn't actually the BFG-style fantasy adventure it looks like....

Monster Trucks Movie Review

Monster Trucks Movie Review

Word has it that a 4-year-old came up with the idea for this unapologetically silly...

Collateral Beauty Movie Review

Collateral Beauty Movie Review

Dramas exploring the nature of death and the true meaning of life are always in...

Paterson Movie Review

Paterson Movie Review

Unpredictable filmmaker Jim Jarmusch ricochets from his artful vampire movie Only Lovers Left Alive into...

I, Daniel Blake Movie Review

I, Daniel Blake Movie Review

At 80 years old, British filmmaker Ken Loach won his second Cannes Film Festival with...

Why Him? Movie Review

Why Him? Movie Review

Writer-director John Hamburg continues to recycle the formula that made his first hit Meet the...

Advertisement
Artists
Actors
    Filmmakers
      Artists
      Bands
        Musicians
          Artists
          Celebrities
             
              Artists
              Interviews
                musicians & bands in the news
                  actors & filmmakers in the news
                    celebrities in the news

                      Go Back in Time using our News archive to see what happened on a particular day in the past.