If stage world with all its romps is always interesting to be brought up as a subject in the big screen, perhaps the best reason to explain it is that the stage world mirrors the glamour, glitz, and the gloomy life a film world also has, or to some extent, even longs to have. As one world connected to the other, often a film about stage life is vividly interesting, thanks to the ability of film in capturing the subject through the filter of lens, resulting in an indirect response from audience as they get blocked by the huge screen in front of them, as compared to the stage performance where the event is presented right in the very own of our sights.
From The Producers to Stage Beauty to Being Julia, these films capture what’s beneath the fabricated life of stage, and present the interpretation as carried by actors on film, doing stage acts. Isn’t it interesting how we get to appreciate the beauty of proscenium-arch stages in a flat white screen? Thus, Mrs. Henderson Presents is presented in the manner, with a satisfying result.
The satisfaction is relied heavily on the shoulders of the two leads, Judi Dench and Bob Hoskins, the latter being one of the producers as well, who ferociously exhibit their enjoyable performances, suspiciously resulting from their rigorous experience as actors, both on stage and films. Thus, seeing them behaving like children playing around in a giant field, teasing and tricking each other in some silly games, as sampled by having Hoskins doing full frontal nudity and Dench donning a giant bear costume, is a rare pleasure amidst the current serious-minded films that even branch to comedy genre.
Alas, the genre is preserved well by Frears who kept the romp jokes intact, both through verbal and visual presentation throughout the entire 120-minute duration that seems short. Even when seeing Hoskins and Dench dance the night away toward the closing act of the film, we are already taken to their world of leisure and fun, regardless the surrounding one sets his place in.