Sunday, May 27, 2012

The Divine Dame Dench

I've just seen "The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel" and come away with renewed adoration and admiration for the wonderful Judi Dench. Only the Grinch would not love her, of course. Throughout her long stage, television and movie career she has played everything from a Bond girl (007's boss M) to Queen Victoria and emerged victorious. At age 77 she has let herself age without letting herself go. So she's a little pouter-pigeon in shape; so she's got lines and bumps, hair as white as snow and a bit of a widow's hump (she is one after all). But have you seen that smile? Do you feel her enthusiasm for life and that self-deprecating sense of humor whenever she's interviewed? And who cuts her hair in such a perfect pixie? I'm going to London in the fall; maybe I can discover her hairdresser in time.

In the "Best Exotic" Judi's character is a bit timid yet determined. She has the most empathy of the great ensemble of characters (and character actors) but not without having paid a price— the realization she was never in charge of her own life. Not for a moment in the film (and I suspect real life) does she stare mournfully into a mirror bemoaning a few extra pounds or give up teatime in favor of a brisk jog in the 110 degree Jaipur weather to sweat off a few inches. She dresses comfortably (could there be elastic in those pants?) but still stylishly. In real life she does not shy away from cleavage or best exotic jewelry. If seeing Judi Dench on the screen or in a photograph is enough to make me want to know her, isn't the image we project likewise what makes people interested in knowing us?
Still true today to her 1968 self

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