Absolutely Fabulous: The Movie (M)
Rating: 3 / 5
When Absolutely Fabulous first burst onto our TV screens back in 1992, many of us didn’t know what to make of Edina and Patsy, two highly obnoxious yet strangely beguiling characters seemingly plucked straight out of a fashion vortex.
Created by (Dawn) French and (Jennifer) Saunders, the two leads, PR magnate Edina (Saunders) and her best mate and drinking buddy Patsy (the irrepressible Joanna Lumley), were the human equivalent of an earthquake—causing havoc and panic everywhere they went.
Two decades on, Eddy and Patsy are back in Absolutely Fabulous: The Movie and I’m happy to report that age has not wearied them. Nor has it made them any less self-absorbed.
It’s obvious that the movie, which reunites the regular cast, has been made for the fans. And so, in addition to our heroines, we have Edina’s long-suffering daughter Saffy (Julia Sawalha), Kathy Burke as tough-talking magazine editor Magda, June Whitfield as Eddy’s addled mother, and Jane Horrocks as Eddy’s assistant, Bubble.
The fresh new face belongs to newcomer Indeyarna Donaldson-Holness who plays Saffy’s 13-year-old daughter Lola.
When we first see Eddy and Patsy they’re still living the high life in Eddy’s inner-city London pad. But all is not what it seems, and Edina is close to bankruptcy and needs to secure an A-list client—and fast.
When an opportunity arises to sign up supermodel Kate Moss, Edina and Patsy quickly make a beeline for the nearest celebrity event.
Of course, things go awry (it’s no spoiler to say that in her enthusiasm to sign Kate Moss up, Eddy accidentally pushes her into the Thames). With Eddy’s granddaughter Lola in tow, the two flee the country and arrive at the French Riviera, determined to be the most stylish fugitives ever. In true ab fab form they hatch a plan to make their escape permanent and live the Belle Époque forever.
Director Mandie Fletcher treats the material with kid gloves—well, she is dealing with television royalty—sticking to a tried-and-true approach that smartly never deviates too far from the leads.
And Saunders and Lumley are obviously why you’d go to see the film. Their chemistry is as true as ever, although there are also a few LOL moments offered by Aussie cameos from Barry Humphries and Rebel Wilson.
More surprising is the movie’s undercurrent, which comments on aging in the modern world; despite having dedicated themselves to a hedonistic lifestyle, it’s painfully obvious that Eddy and Patsy don’t fit into the new social media context. In the eyes of those whose lives they covert they’ve become irrelevant. Or worse still. Simply old.
And the self-reflection doesn’t end there, either. While on the Riviera, Eddy has plenty of time to think about her own mortality and with that, the reality of how she’s treated, or mistreated, the significant others in her life, namely Saffy.
When Eddy is at her most vulnerable, she’s also at her most human, but never far behind with a quip and a well-aimed insult is Patsy who still puts the ‘punch’ into punchline.
Highlight: the girls are back
Red flag: adult themes, drug and alcohol references, coarse language