This is a film about four actresses (who are now Dames) catching up together to share stories, have tea, share memories and most importantly laugh. Our Dames are:
* Judi Dench
* Eileen Atkins
* Joan Plowright &
* Maggie Smith
From the beginning of the film, it’s obvious our leading ladies have a strong friendship and history with one another. Their catch up appears to occur regularly, but this time our Dames have allowed cameras, stage and lighting crew to deliver a taste of the type of conversations that occurs whenever they are united. Tea With Dames feels more like a Documentary than a motion picture feature.
Some of the topics discussed involve the Dames talking about their early career on stage and the many objections and negativity they encountered along the way. Our Dames also reflect on highlights of the past and present, plus sharing discussions about their loved ones and the advice they wish they told themselves at the beginning of their acting career.
I love this idea and concept. A group of Dames talking around the table doesn’t sound like a huge budget is required to achieve this documentary, and that’s why I love it. Our Dames are never dull, and I found there are plenty of topics that are discussed, revealing things that I never knew about the actresses.
However, there are sadly two elements that do disappoint me. Firstly is some of the camera work done to capture the Dames during the stories and in-depth discussion is sometimes captured with a shaky camera, and it’s obvious the filming crew struggled to keep up with the conversation, missing key expressions from our leads. Another slight disappointment is that our Dames are given questions during the film and documentary (possibly by the director) which then puts the Dames on a path of a topic or lengthy discussion. The problem with this is that every time a crew member questions our Dames from behind the camera, it reminds the audience that our Dames are not alone, and people surround them. It’s a minor detail, but it merely ruins the vibe, illusion and the concept of the film.
Overall, this is a rather simple documentary, and I love the idea. Our Dames provide fantastic insight from their past and their friendship with one another. There’s never a dull moment, but our Dames are not always in the camera frame, and the questioning throughout reminds us that this is a film, taking away from the concept. I feel our Dames could carry on an in-depth discussion without any assistance- after all, they do it regularly, right? Either way, it’s a touching documentary.
Tea With The Dames (2018) is Now Available on DVD
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Review Written by Peter Walkden