193 of 209 people found the following review helpful
Competition for Love on the English Coast,
This quiet British film starring two of Britain's most acclaimed actresses, Dames Maggie Smith and Judi Dench, is unabashedly a vehicle for these two leading ladies. Janet (Smith) and Ursula (Dench) are two unmarried sisters living on the coast. When one morning after a storm they discover an unconscious young man (Daniel Bruhl) on the rocky shore, their daily rhythms change as each woman develops a crush on the helpless man. Each vies for his complete attention. When Janet is able to finally communicate with Andrea in German (he is Polish), Ursula becomes consumed with jealousy and compensates by pampering him. Both, however, are pushed aside as it turns out that Andrea is a virtuoso violinist (music played by Joshua Bell), and the entire town in drawn to him. Even worse for the sisters, a beautiful visitor, Olga, discovers him as well, drawing him away from Janet and Ursula, into her own world.
Judi Dench is given more to work with than her co-star, and so comes across as the more complicated woman, but Maggie Smith turns in a fine, reserved performance as the more hard-edged sister. Daniel Bruhl is a little awkward in his role; while Natascha McElrone turn in a more memorable performance, though hardly as commanding as Dench and Smith. The cinematography lends affection to the English countryside and coast, and it highlights the isolation of the small town.
This film is slow-moving and carefully articulated, without much happening beyond what is revealed in the actresses' faces. Without Dench and Smith, it would have no appeal, and so should be seen more for the two stars than for the film itself. 3+ stars.