Parents' Guide to

Tea with the Dames

By Tara McNamara, Common Sense Media Reviewer

age 13+

Talky doc fun for fans but unlikely to hold teen interest.

Movie NR 2018 81 minutes
Tea with the Dames Poster Image

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This movie is everything the title suggests: It's a group of respected older women having everyday conversation over tea (and champagne). Although their everyday conversation isn't the same as most people's, the delivery lacks the sizzle the setup promises. When four of the acting world's greatest performers, who are also dear friends, gather for a chat, you'd hope that a director as skilled as Notting Hill's Roger Michell would coax out profound insights and shocking untold stories delivered with resonance. But that's not what happens. The women titter over memories of classical actors, unfair directors, and harsh critics, but issues that could be really revelatory are glazed over.

Part of this is due to Michell's chosen format. His intention in Tea with the Dames was to position viewers as the fifth friend, joining the actresses at the table and seeing them unvarnished and authentic. What that means in practice is witnessing the moments where hearing aids need to be turned up, where conversation runs dry, and where an icon gets fed up with the production staff. It's real all right -- and die-hard fans of the actresses will likely eat it up -- but including the "between takes" moments sometimes feels disrespectful. The benefit of the movie's fly-on-the-wall scenario is overhearing the familiar conversation among longtime trusted buddies, but the downside is that, for many, it may be too inside: They mention friends by first names only, quote miscellaneous lines of dialogue from a play, or allude to situations most audiences are likely to be unfamiliar with. Fans of British theater and these Grand Dames will soak up every minute, but for a general audience, the tea is too bland.

Movie Details

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