We gave it an A
Oscar-nominated Pauline Collins reprises her award-winning stage role as the sweet, confused, and very lonely title character in Shirley Valentine. A once-rebellious English schoolgirl, she’s now an isolated suburban housewife who finds solace in talking to the wall — an apt substitute for a husband (Bernard Hill) without the energy or facility to communicate. But she doesn’t just talk: she quips, jeers, jokes, and reminisces about all that has happened and especially about all that hasn’t.
Shirley’s is not an unfamiliar story, but Shirley is an exceptional character: melancholy, but never self-pitying. She doesn’t just grumble; she cleverly observes, wonders, and hopes. She desperately wants a change, but is without the courage to risk it — until a friend wins a trip to Greece, and Shirley flies.
This is the rare play that benefits moving from stage to film. The change from rainy England to the gleaming Mediterranean is as striking to viewers as it is to Shirley. And the new characters offer more targets for her wit.
Shirley Valentine is a road movie of a different kind — a journey of self-discovery and, more important, rediscovery. A