Tea With the Dames | Chicago Reader
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Tea With the Dames

This cozy nonfiction film, structured as an extended conversation rather than a standard documentary, stars four venerable British actresses—Eileen Atkins, Judi Dench, Joan Plowright, and Maggie Smith—whose friendship allows a breezy candor as they revisit their long careers and dish on colleagues and former husbands. Honoring their artistic achievements, Queen Elizabeth II bestowed upon each the title Dame Commander of the Order of the British Empire, but there's nothing starchy about them as they frankly assess how their looks influenced casting (Atkins was considered not so much pretty as sexy when she started out); rank theater company heads on toughness and daring (Smith tells Plowright, who was married to Laurence Olivier, that "he terrified us"); and swap a blue story or two. Director Roger Michell (Notting Hill, Venus) mixes in clips from their movies and also from TV productions of their early stage successes, affording glimpses of these ladies in the flush of youth, while inevitably adding a tinge of melancholy.

Credits

Director:

  • Roger Michell

Cast:

  • Judi Dench
  • Maggie Smith
  • Eileen Atkins
  • Joan Plowright

Producers:

  • Sally Angel
  • Karen Steyn
  • Sally Angel
  • Debbie Manners
  • Jamie Carmichael
  • John Schmidt

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