Reviews provided by RottenTomatoes
Robert K. Elder,
As compelling and original as this theme is, it's not enough to keep our attention, no matter how lovely the ladies in lavender are.
Dance has had the great good fortune to cast two legendary British actresses, and thus Ladies in Lavender gets elevated to the rare-treat category.
San Francisco Chronicle:
There are two royal reasons to see the film -- Dame Judi Dench and Dame Maggie Smith, both over 70 and still very much in their prime.
The kind of Masterpiece Theater-type film that does its level best to bland us into a pleasant slumber.
Not even the skills of Dames Smith and Judi Dench can make this tea strong enough to swallow.
With the bell-jar atmosphere familiar to certain period pieces, it suggest we are not the only nation with tired, go-to genres.
Ladies in Lavender oscillates between scenes so relentlessly nice they make you want to scream and others -- particularly those depicting the crush Dench develops on her new housemate -- creepier than anything in The Amityville Horror.
It is no more than a warm cup of tea on a chilly afternoon. The reward comes in seeing these two great actresses at work.
Smith is at her jauntiest, but it's Dench who catches you by surprise because she's rarely been given a character so emotionally vulnerable and delicately yearning.
New York Daily News:
Ultimately, Dance is unable to connect the many threads of his rather flimsy script, leading to an abrupt and somewhat unsatisfying conclusion.
New York Times:
Ladies in Lavender offers the opportunity to watch two beloved dames of the British Empire rattle around a house in Cornwall.
New York Observer:
Ladies in Lavender, carefully written and superbly directed by the actor Charles Dance, is a film of unusual elegance and artistry.
It's a British period piece, full of the sylvan Cornish coast and countryside, vintage motorcars, steam threshers and sensibilities. Pity they left out a compelling plot.
Ladies in Lavender assembles those two great Dames, Judi Dench and Maggie Smith, and sends them off to play sisters sharing a cozy little cottage on the Cornwall coast. That is an inspiration. What they do there is a disappointment.
It's a conventional picture, but it feels so deeply alive that it's practically a novelty.
As long as Dench or Smith is on the screen there's plenty to absorb one's interest.
Full of delightful moments that throw into high relief the actors' craft.
While they never look bored, Smith and Dench are clearly slumming, having played these roles in other costume pics.
Under Dance's sure hand, and the even surer performances of Smith and Dench, who know that underplaying an emotion often increases its punch, the film is a small study in the dignity of letting go.
A funny, civilized little romantic drama in which Smith co-stars with the equally estimable Judi Dench.