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Nothing Like A Dame

You're invited.

There may be nothing like a dame, but when said dames are a quartet of the most acclaimed British actresses in history – Judi Dench, Maggie Smith, Eileen Atkins and Joan Plowright – and you can see all four of them on the screen at the same time, then lock the door, toss the key, and get ready to be knocked right out of your seat.

Poster for the chatty documentary Nothing Like A DameThese great women, all friends of long standing and artists without peer, meet periodically to sip tea, exchange gossip and trade memories. Nothing Like A Dame takes place over the course of a single afternoon at the country estate where Joan Plowright lived with husband Laurence Olivier, and the nostalgia that spills forth reflects thoughts, ideas and reminiscences on such topics as life, love, stage fright, children, stardom, acting styles, and the vicissitudes of old age.

Later, it’s on to discussions of politics, legacy (Maggie Smith shows no enthusiasm for her Harry Potter movies and claims to have never seen an episode of “Downton Abbey”), the critics, and finally what it was like to become a Dame. Unscripted memories are illustrated by archival photos and film clips that demonstrate the talent and versatility of the four actresses in full bloom and show why they’ve played every part and won every award.

Unrehearsed, spontaneous and off-the-cuff, the four actresses exhibit a fearless charm that is relaxed and effortless, and a relentless candour that is enchanting. The result is 83 minutes of bliss spent with four Dames who know the difference between truth and illusion, and generously give a great deal of both. In Nothing Like A Dame, boredom is not an option.       

– Rex Reed, The Observer

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