Director: Lewis Gilbert
Starring: Pauline Collins, Tom Conti, Bernard Hill, Alison Steadman.
'I'd like the chance to be the girl who used to be me...' This line from the opening song of this award winning British film sets the mood well. Patti Austen sings of a woman who feels detached from the girl she once was.
The woman in question is Shirley Bradshaw Nee Valentine (Pauline Collins). Shirley is a 52 year old housewife with 2 grown up children who have flown the nest. She has no career, few friends and she talks to her wall. She cooks the same meal on the same day every week. Her husband Joe (Bernard Hill) comes home at the same time every day and eats at the same time every day. There is a distinct lack of excitement in her life. And a distinct lack of the girl she used to be. A distinct lack of Shirley Valentine.
And then Shirleys friend Jane (Alison Steadman) wins a trip for two to a Greek island and invites Shirley to join her. When she was a girl Shirley used to jump off her roof. Is this her chance to jump again? And what will she jump for? Will it be the Greek Casanova costs (Tom Conti) and his brothers boat? Or will it be something more fulfilling?
There is no Comper Generated Images, no special effects (unless you include very poor dubbing for the American audience) and no big hollywood budget. Regardless of this, this film has a very 'real' atmosphere. This is helped by an outstanding performance from Collins as Shirley. She is equally capable of conveying humour and heartfelt emotion and the first person shooting works well allowing collins to draw viewers into the story. There are solid performances from other greats such as Joanna Lumley (Darling, I'm a hooker, I'm a whore) and Julia McKenzie as Shirleys snobby neighbour.
This film will resonate with a wide range of viewers. Shirley Bradshow will take you through a myriad of emotions to find the Shirley Valentine she so desperately wants to reconnect with. She may even inspire you to be brave enough to jump off the roof into the unknown.