Shirley Valentine

A review of Shirley Valentine by Rob Mason

Shirley Valentine is a stay-at-home British housewife who has fallen into a dull routine with her life and in her spare moments philosophises about how this has come about. She has no career and has been dependent on her husband and two children along with a few neighbours for all her interest and conversation.  However, her two children have now moved out of the house and her husband, Joe is more interested in the business he runs than what Shirley is doing.  However, an incident arises that becomes the catalyst for change. It occurs one evening before dinner.  Joe likes his meals on time and he also likes the same meals on the same night.  Shirley is running a little late with the meal and Joe is becoming irritated, and when he discovers that Shirley has cooked eggs and chips instead of his usual meal of steak he explains in his usual brusque manner that this is not good enough and pushes the plate of eggs and chips back to her saying he will not eat it. 

One of Shirley’s friends, Jane (Alison Steadman) wins a trip for two to Greece and she asks Shirley to go with her. This presents Shirley with an opportunity to get away from the house for a short while.  She decides not to tell Joe, her husband, fearful that he might persuade her not to go.
When Shirley arrives in Greece her friend Jane tells her she’s been invited out for dinner by another passenger she met on the plane.  This of course means that Shirley must explore the Island herself on the first night. As it happens this turns out to be fortuitous for Shirley because she meets Costas Dimitriades (Tom Conti) the owner of a nearby tavern.  They seem to be immediately attracted to each other and Costas invites Shirley to travel around the nearby islands for a day, on his brother’s boat. Shirly accepts his offer and they arrange to meet the next day.

Sailing out on the boat with Costas proves to be a turning point for Shirley. She decides to go swimming in the sea without a swimsuit and afterwards when she’s back on the boat with Costas (still minus her swimsuit) she loses all her self-control and inhibitions. 
A few days later, Shirley’s husband decides to visit the Island where Shirley is staying and find out whether she intends to return, but this is not revealed and the film ends without explaining whether Shirley will stay on the Island or return to the U.K.


In conclusion, I think it’s unimportant what might happen in the movie, it’s more about whether anyone should stay in a situation where they feel they are no longer appreciated.  Everyone should strive to find satisfaction in whatever situation they find themselves, in the same way that Shirley Valentine has tried to do in this movie.


Shirley Valentine is played by Pauline Collins who first came to prominence portraying Sarah Moffat in Upstairs, Downstairs a British television drama series.  

The film was shot on location in Liverpool, Twickenham, Oxford Circus, Bloomsbury, and St. Pancras Station in London, and on the island of Mykonos in Greece.