by C. D. Mille
magical fairy dust is being sprinkled over Palm Springs this week.
Namely at the Camelot Theatre during a limited engagement of the
charming documentary, Hats Off.
Meet Mimi Weddell, a lively 93 year old who studies ballet, performs
in film and on stage, sings and executes gymnastics. She is a one
Possessing a stunning beauty and a lively wit, life began for Mimi
at the age of 65 with passing of her husband. Determined to follow
her dreams, she set out to fulfill a life long ambition for performing.
Never wanting to become a star, she simply wants to act. We go along
with Mimi as she makes the rounds in New York, enduring cattle calls,
long hours on the set and taking her bite out of the Big Apple.
But whats more captivating than her spirited ambition is her
wonderful philosophy of living. Enchanting but not eccentric, she
embraces the world with a mixture of joy, wonder and the credo,
Rise above it.
Never one of great means and with her share of lifes jarring
bumps, she still is able to swirl in the dance of days with an enormous
flair and style. The finer things never escaped her appreciation,
even if she was not able to actually possess them. Chic and self
assured, shed never think of going out with a hat. In fact,
she says, The only honest thing in life is a hat. And
what an amazing collection of hats she owns and wears.
Adding to the richness of the film is her family. Grounded in the
realities of the world, her son and daughter provide a vivid contrast
to her panache. Indeed, her daughter and daughters children
have been living with her for years in a small apartment. This sometimes
chaotic domestic situation is challenging but never conquers her
Hats Off is a compelling and enjoyable profile of a
truly unique woman. Director Jyll Johnstone is obviously taken with
her subject yet never allows her admiration for Mimi to become fawning.
We are given a look her elegance as well as the mundane, making
Mimi all the more fascinating.
The film has a rich, warm look to it and includes clips from some
of Mimis work ranging from ultra-low budget horror films to
major motion pictures. All quite delightful.
Uplifting, entertaining and enlightening, Hats Off will
make you feel that anything is possible. As Mimi says, Achieving
a dream, no matter how small or large, its a miracle.
FINAL TAKE: Auntie Mame meets Sally Bowles.