Shirley Valentine Review

Image for Shirley Valentine

Shirley, a tired housewife (Collins) takes up a friend's offer of a holiday in Greece and finds there the man of her grease-bestrewn dreams. Middle-aged pant-dropping and a cackle a minute follow as Shirley realises this is what life's all about.


The Willy Russell West End success comes to the big screen with Pauline Collins recreating her stage role as the 42 year old Liverpool housewife who rediscovers herself during a holiday to Greece. Bernard Hill is the stubborn chips-and-egg hubby she leaves behind, and a leather-faced Tom Conti — offering a nice line in surly broken English — is the swarthy Greek bar owner who provides her with a job and some seaboard sex. There's some neat flashbacking to a young Shirley being rebellious at school, a meeting with an old classmate turned upper-crust "hooker" (Joanna Lumley) and a great deal of positive thinking along the lines of "I've fallen in love with the idea of living".

Stereotyped jokes, stereotyped characters and stereotyped situations make this a safe and solid transfer from theatre to cinema which holds absolutely no surprises. Playing like a live action comic book, with Collins frequently addressing the audience (shades of Alfie, another Gilbert film), it's good humoured enough, but, following on from Bread and all the other professional Liverpool homes, you can't help feeling you've seen and heard everything here somewhere before

Middle-aged scouse housewives and Willy Russell is a bread and butter combination: no frills, a tad repetitive, but plenty of substance nonetheless.