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Hats Off (2008) - Movie Review

About.com Rating 4.5 Star Rating

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Hats Off (2008) - Movie Review

Mimi Weddell in Hats Off

Canobie Films

The Bottom Line

Were it not for Mimi Weddell, there would be no Hats Off--and hats off to director Jyll Johnstone for profiling Mimi on film.

You’ve seen Mimi as upper crusty ladies in Louis Vuiton ads, in TV sitcoms and horror flicks. In addition to whatever else the role requires, Mimi brings an air of elegance to her work. And she usually wears one of her hats--she has an extraordinary collection of them--to convince casting directors she’s the right gal for the part. Mimi tap dances, does somersaults, totes props almost her equal in weight. She's indefatigable and undefeatable. She will inspire and enchant you, I guarantee.

Pros

  • Mimi Weddell is inspiring.
  • Mimi Weddell is delightful, determined and living her dream.
  • Mimi Weddell is beautiful, talented and no nonsense.
  • Mimi Weddell is eccentric and fascinating
  • Mimi Weddell is always worth watching.

Cons

  • The film leaves you wanting for more Mimi--but that’s not necessarily a ‘con.’

Description

  • The film chronicles ten years of Mimi's life from age 80 to 90, but she doesn't lose her panache or seem to age at all.
  • Mimi's mantra, "Rise Above It," is posted all over her apartment as her constant reminder to herself to focus forward.
  • It's very entertaining to see Mimi slip into character while she's auditioning or modeling a hat for Jyll Johnstone.
  • Mimi created her own path and is determined to follow it to the end. Sometimes she doesn't feel like getting up, but does.
  • Johnstone has known Mimi for years. Friendship uniquely qualifies her to tell Mimi's story--that, and sincere admiration.
  • This film should be seen by anyone who thinks of senior citizens as second citizens--Mimi proves they're first rate.

Guide Review - Hats Off (2008) - Movie Review

If you're lucky, you have a little Mimi Weddell in you--and Jyll Johnstone's engaging documentary will help you to find it.

Mimi, at age 93, is free-spirited, self-reliant and forward-thinking. She works constantly--outdistancing much younger actresses at auditions, standing in line at 'cattle calls' and charming casting directors who say that she's singularly stalwart in her persistence and daring in her willingness to try anything. They love her. And so will you.

Mimi, a Mayflower descendant and proud of it, tells her story with Kate Hepburn-like aplomb. She played her role as wife to music industry exec Dick Weddell perfectly until he lost his job and his will to live and their lifestyle. Mimi took secretarial jobs to keep the family afloat. But when her husband died, she stepped away from the typewriter and onto the stage, following her dream to become an actress. In fact, she landed her first big role--the lead in the cult film Dracula's Last Rites in an audition she did while en route to her husband's memorial. At the time, she was 65.

Mimi isn't a person who's dragged down by the past, but she does remember and share the details of her life quite candidly. Jyll Johnstone uses old photographs and home movies to create the broader picture of Mimi's life. She interviews Mimi's three children, two of whom life with their mother in her apartment on New York's East Side.

It's clear that Mimi would prefer to live alone, and it's fascinating to see her create a peaceful space around herself--even when one grandchild is tickle-torturing her with a feather. The family dynamic is fascinating.

Mimi has high standards for herself: she costumes herself impeccably, regularly has her thinning hair coifed at Elizabeth Arden.

At age 90, she was named one of New York Magazine's "50 Most Beautiful People in New York." She's a lady. In Hats Off, she's iconic.

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