Shirley Valentine (1989)
Stars: Pauline Collins, Tom Conti, Bernard Hill
Director: Lewis Gilbert
Writer: Willy Russell, based on his play
No worries: Shirley Valentine Bradshaw (Pauline Collins) isn’t climbing the walls. She’s just talking to them, including the fourth one, which lets us into her thoughts that she doesn’t bother sharing with her husband (Bernard Hill). A middle-class British housewife, Shirley has lost her sense of who she is beyond the wife who gets eggs-and-chips on the table by six o’clock prompt. Her husband (Bernard Hill) left his playfulness and flirtatiousness back in the disco era. As for passion, Shirley grumbles, “I think sex is like supermarkets—you know, overrated. Just a lot of pushing and something and you still come out with every little at the end.”
For all her flippant comments, though, Shirley is on the brink of packing up some panties with lace and a silk kimono to spend a fortnight in Greece. But it isn’t a lover she’s seeking—although hey, a frolic with a local innkeeper (Tom Conti) might go well with that Greek wine and sunshine. No, what Shirley really wants is to jump feet first into a bottomless ocean of sensuality and reclaim a self that isn’t afraid to make waves, enjoy a meal by herself, and tell someone “no,” putting a period at the end. She’s setting new terms now that she’s found that paradise is writing your own rules and letting go of the old ideas of who you are and what limits contain you.
When you find that your unflappable younger self seems like a dream child that became lost somewhere around the time that Thursdays petrified into steak-and-potatoes night, Shirley Valentine is the perfect aperitif, a tonic that will rejuvenate you and remind you that all you are seeking is within and always was.
Points to Ponder:
Is there a part of yourself that you need to reclaim, and if so, what rules are going to get smashed if you do?
Do you have enough silk kimono occasions in your life and if not, why not?
Who is the you that is reading these questions and how can you help her express herself?