Parents' Guide to

Shirley Valentine

By Helen Dugdale, Common Sense Media Reviewer

age 15+

Classic British comedy challenges gender stereotypes; sex.

Movie R 1989 108 minutes
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This classic BAFTA-nominated British movie is an empathetic nod to generations of women -- and men -- who have woken up one morning to find their life isn't what they thought it would be. Done with a humorous tone, it encourages the audience to follow their dreams and never-give-up. There's also strong messages about the changing female dynamics of the 1980s, when societal expectations were for women to just be content with a house, husband, and a family. Shirley's character breaks these stereotypes as she ignores the opinions of her husband and children and follows her unaccomplished childhood dreams.

Taking up the same role she played in Willy Russell's play version, Collins is excellent as the titular Shirley Valentine. Breaking the fourth wall -- turning to the camera and addressing the audience directly -- is always a risk on the big screen. But Collins is so familiar with the material, she does it seamlessly. This remains a funny, yet emotive, look at entering middle age and getting to know oneself again.

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