A recently widowed eccentric with money to burn and no intentions of settling down enlists the aide of a showbiz professional to transform a run-down theater in Soho into London's most innovative entertainment hot spot in director… More A recently widowed eccentric with money to burn and no intentions of settling down enlists the aide of a showbiz professional to transform a run-down theater in Soho into London's most innovative entertainment hot spot in director Stephen Frears' cinematic account of the groundbreaking Windmill Theater. The year is 1937 and, despite having recently lost her husband, 69-year-old Laura Henderson (Judy Dench) remains as ambitious and vital as ever. Aghast at her friend Lady Conway's (Thelma Barlow) suggestion that she take up a mundane hobby such as diamond collecting to pass the time, Mrs. Henderson instead shocks her well-to-do social circle by purchasing the ramshackle Windmill Theater in the heart of downtown Soho. Unafraid to take a risk in the venture, yet lacking the experience needed to run the theater, Mrs. Henderson brings in showbiz veteran Vivian Van Damm (Bob Hoskins) to line up an opening act that will set the stage ablaze. When the ever-curious Mrs. Henderson's intrusive spying begins to impede on Mr. Van Damm's creative progress, the frustrated theater manager has her banished from rehearsals. Though Van Damm's innovative idea to stage an unending stream of entertainment dubbed "Revudeville" proves a wild and profitable success, the Windmill begins to suffer when other local theaters quickly follow suit. Now faced with the prospect of seeing her once-lucrative endeavor fall by the wayside due to the unoriginality of the copycats who surround her, Mrs. Henderson decides to show audiences something they've never seen before by making the Windmill the first theater to feature nude female entertainers live on-stage. ~ Jason Buchanan, Rovi
Consensus: Judi Dench and Bob Hoskins shine in this warm, witty period piece.