Movie Review: Babs (2017)

Starring: Samantha Spiro, Jamie Winstone and Nick Moran

Directed by: Dominic Leclerc

A dramatised story of Barbara Windsor and her rise to fame. We take a look at Barbara’s childhood during the war and the strained relationship she had with her father as we’re taken through the early stages of her life and career during the 50’s and 60’s.

Barbara Windsor is one of the biggest names to come out the world of British entertainment. From starring in more than ten Carry On movies throughout her career and to go on to play Peggy Mitchell in Eastenders, she’s a name that most people within the UK will be very familiar with. This movie allows us to have a glimpse at what it was like for Barbara while she was a young girl growing up through WWII to adulthood as she was trying to become a star. We also get a closer look at some of the demons she has had to face over the years, especially focusing on the issues concerning her father.

Babs was very indifferent for me, there were a lot of good things about it but then there were a lot of negatives too. I’ll start off with the negatives first and then end on a high later. Firstly, I don’t feel that Jamie Winstone was the right actress to play Barbara Windsor during the early days of her career. While her acting was great and I can’t knock her for that, she is simply too big to play Windsor who was extremely slender during her career. Jamie Winstone is too tall and her shoulders too broad to accurately portray Barbara Windsor. Another issue I had with the movie was the way in which the story was told. My wife initially said it and after she did it played on my mind throughout the rest of the movie. The story was told in ‘A Christmas Carol’ type of way where we’d see an older Windsor who was going through a rough patch in her career look back on her life with the ghostly figure of her father, showing him what he missed after he abandoned her as a child. I just didn’t like the constant cutting back and fourth between past and present as at times the lines were getting a little blurred.

Now we’ll end with the positives which there were many but the main ones were the performances of both Samantha Spiro and Honor Kneafsey who both played Barbara Windsor at different stages of her life. Samantha Spiro played the most current version of Windsor as she was looking back at her life and career with the image of her father, showing him what she achieved in her life when he wasn’t around to see it. Everything about her performance was spot on, the way she looked, the way she spoke and laughed and the emotion that she depicted as she reveals her abandonment issues was great to watch. Honor Kneafsey played a teenage Barbara Windsor and she truly was a delight to watch. She was charming and engaging and really stole each scene she was in. Through the charm and facade of her showbiz life there was real pain in the eyes of Windsor from her father leaving her and to being sexually assaulted as a child while she was an evacuee during the war and Kneafsey was able to portray this magnificently. Barbara Windsor’s Father was played by Nick Moran, most famous for his role in Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels, and he delivers a decent emotional performance of a man who has lived a life in regret. At times his face did look a little bewildered as opposed to sad but for the most part he was able to convey real emotion which is something I’ve never really seen Moran do before.

In conclusion, this movie had some terrific performances from a handful of its cast but I really didn’t like the way the story was told. With a lot of pros and cons within the movie it was still nice to learn a bit more about the life of one of Britains most beloved actresses.

6/10

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