Metascore
61

Generally favorable reviews - based on 29 Critics

Critic score distribution:
  1. Positive: 20 out of 29
  2. Negative: 1 out of 29
  1. This is the most impressive directing debut by a "name" British actor in a long, long time.
  2. It is a pleasure from start to finish.
  3. Reviewed by: Jay Weissberg
    80
    Full of delightful moments that throw into high relief the actors' craft.
  4. The film is a small study in the dignity of letting go.
  5. The film is old-fashioned because it exists. No one, to use an ever-dubious line, makes films like this anymore.
  6. Dance's directorial debut isn't exciting, but it's deeply felt and engagingly acted. Why doesn't he take more advantage of the story's opportunities for fine music, though?
  7. A wistful little thing about regret, jealousy and love.
  8. The unspoken heroes of the project are cinematographer Peter Biziou, who finds all the beauty in Cornwall's landscapes, and U.S. violinist Joshua Bell, who extracts beauty without schmaltz from every violin solo.
  9. 75
    For his directorial debut, British actor Charles Dance tackles such familiar English themes as repressed desire and an arm's-length fascination with foreigners. Luckily for the slight story, he has recruited two of the most effortlessly brilliant grande dames of British film.
  10. It is to Dance's considerable credit that he never lets the filmmaking overtake the understated storytelling.
  11. Reviewed by: James Wegg
    70
    Charles Dance's début feature is an impressive achievement.
  12. 70
    The sort of small, independent-minded picture that so much of American indie cinema strives, and often fails, to give us. It's a conventional picture, but it feels so deeply alive that it's practically a novelty.
  13. Reviewed by: David Ng
    70
    So tastefully subdued it makes Merchant Ivory look like Gaspar Noé. And while they never look bored, Smith and Dench are clearly slumming, having played these roles in other costume pics.
  14. The film is rich with real feeling. And Dench's performance is a heartbreaker.
  15. 70
    A poignant portrait of one woman who has loved and lost, and another who never had a love to lose.
  16. 70
    This movie will hardly set the world on fire, but it's a worthy vehicle for the two old troopers; Smith has the stiffest upper lip in the business, and Dench is heartrending as the naive, lovelorn sister.
  17. His (Charles Dance) cinematic style mixes the scent of mothballs with that of the lavender in which these ladies are preserved.
  18. 63
    Doesn't stretch beyond the typical, period drama the Brits do so well. 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.
  19. Ultimately, Dance is unable to connect the many threads of his rather flimsy script, leading to an abrupt and somewhat unsatisfying conclusion. But the journey is worth taking, thanks to the company of its stars.
  20. May be a slight film, but watching the Dames work in harmony in beautiful nuanced performances is a rich and fully satisfying reward.
  21. 60
    Its appeal lies in the powerhouse performances delivered by Dench and Smith.
  22. 60
    It's important to go in knowing the central secret of the movie: Nothing exciting is going to happen. Ever. Armed with that knowledge, viewers should be able to settle down and enjoy the extremely low-key, melancholy character study that plays out between a handful of excellent actors.
  23. The cinematic equivalent of a visit from a cherished but increasingly dithery maiden aunt.
  24. 50
    Perfectly sweet and civilized.
  25. 50
    Well-acted but a bit creaky.
  26. The material obviously had to be stretched to fill the big screen for almost two hours.
  27. Reviewed by: Ty Burr
    50
    Likably played by Bruhl, the castaway remains more dramatic device than living, breathing character. And without him truly being there, Dench and Smith are just volleying an imaginary ping-pong ball between them. That's not acting -- that's exercise.
  28. 40
    Any film in which grande dames Maggie Smith and Judi Dench share the screen is one worth seeing, if only to marvel at their deft skills in the art of acting.
  29. 30
    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."
User Score
8.1

Universal acclaim- based on 11 Ratings

User score distribution:
  1. Positive: 5 out of 6
  2. Negative: 0 out of 6
  1. Nov 1, 2012
    9
    Great performances of both the two "Grandes Dames" of acting, Maggie Smith and Dame Judi Dench, and German newcomer Daniel Brühl andGreat performances of both the two "Grandes Dames" of acting, Maggie Smith and Dame Judi Dench, and German newcomer Daniel Brühl and Star-Trek-star David Warner. A musical drama film with great emotions and music, some lacks in story but outstanding performances of the actors. Full Review »
  2. SaleriaJ.
    Feb 2, 2007
    8
    A lovely, charming film with exceptional acting. It's meant to be a fairy tale and not analyzed to death. Just a wonderful, heartwarming A lovely, charming film with exceptional acting. It's meant to be a fairy tale and not analyzed to death. Just a wonderful, heartwarming confection. Dame Judi, once again, proves she's one of the greatest living actors of our day. Full Review »
  3. MichaelP.
    Dec 4, 2006
    5
    I'd have to agree with most of the positive reviews...with one exception. There was a hole in the plot larger than the colossal I'd have to agree with most of the positive reviews...with one exception. There was a hole in the plot larger than the colossal multiplex screen on which I saw this film. Namely, the teenage boy seems to come from nowhere, apparently with zero background, family, or any other history. Furthermore, neither of the sisters is remotely interested in where he comes from or where he was going or are concerned that his family might be sick with worry about his whereabouts and safety--apparently, just learning that he is Polish satisfies them in all such matters (oddly). There is no concern about the wrecked ship that he supposedly came from, no concern about the fate of the other passengers--nothing. In short, these characters do not behave in a realistic way. It bugged me for the first half of the film, and I heard other people in the audience complaining about it when I left the theater. I'm all for artsy films that explore elements of human nature that are rarely touched upon (like an older woman falling madly in love with a boy young enough to be her grandson--very well done here), but I believe that it's still possible to stick to the basics of good storytelling when making this kind of film. Without the fatal flaw--which, sadly, would have been easy to fix in the script--I would have given the film a high score. Full Review »