Skip to content

Movie Quote Monday – Shirley Valentine

I first saw Shirley Valentine as a one-woman play when I was about 16, and I loved it. The movie came out in 1989 and I don’t remember when I first saw that, but when I did it made me fall in love with Shirley Valentine all over again.

It’s about a woman whose kids have left the nest, and whose husband is in his own “chips and egg are on Tuesdays, steak is on Thursdays” kind of funk. And how, at 42, she finds herself somehow morphed from the rebellious and spirited Shirley Valentine of her youth, into “the wife” and “the mother”. She has sunk so far into her life that she simply doesn’t recognize herself anymore.

Shirley’s friend Jane wins a free vacation to Greece, and in a spark of familial defiance, Shirley accepts an invitation to accompany her. But once in Greece, she finds herself abandoned by Jane on the very first night, and instead of being alone at home talking to the wall, she’s alone in Greece talking to a rock. But she quickly decides that she can do alone in Greece just as well as in London, so why not make the very most of her two-week holiday.

So one night she goes out to fulfill her “soft little dream” of sitting by the sea, drinking a glass of wine and watching the sun set. A restaurant owner, Costas, obliges her by carrying a table down to the shore, glad to be able to make someone’s dream come true.

Of course, what Shirley finds is that sometimes the fulfillment of our dreams doesn’t feel the way we thought it would. And the life we’ve lived, even one we thought we wanted, doesn’t always achieve our great expectations.

Shirley:  I’ve led such a little life. And even that will be over pretty soon. I have…allowed myself to lead this little life when inside me there was so much more. And it’s all gone unused. And now it never will be. Why do we get all this life if we don’t ever use it? Why do we get all these…feelings…and dreams and hopes…if we don’t ever use them. That’s where Shirley Valentine disappeared to. She got lost in all this unused life.

I’d be lying if I said I’d never felt the way Shirley feels, and I think lots of people go through some kind of emotional crisis of the “what have I done with my life” variety. I won’t tell you what Shirley does to put the living back in her life (some of which I can’t condone), but I will tell you what Costas says when he comes back and finds her crying:

Costas:  Dreams. They are never in the place you expect them to be.

And I think that’s the thing. We don’t always get what we think we want most; our dreams won’t always fulfill us in the way we thought they would.

Life won’t always fulfill us the way we thought and hoped and planned that it would.

But that’s no reason to give up. Disappointment is not a good enough reason to give up.

We have to keep creating new dreams. And we have to remain open for the adventures that come to us unbidden and unforced, the dreams we don’t even know we have until they’re happening to us.


Have you ever gone through a “mid-life” crisis?

How did you handle it?

13 Comments Post a comment
  1. I love this movie, but I have not thought of it in years. Thanks for the nudge to watch again and see what dreams I need to revive. Thanks.

    September 30, 2013
    • Me either, but I saw it at my Mom’s this weekend, and I was excited to discover it again! I just had to put it up today, haha!

      September 30, 2013
  2. Boots,
    Mid Life Crisis? Nope, never had one.

    September 30, 2013
    • You delight me, Mark! That’s brilliant.

      September 30, 2013
  3. MawMaw #

    This is one of my favorite movies and I can identify with its premise. I agree that her solution is not one I would endorse, but I did admire her decision to ‘move forward’ rather than sit and feel sorry for herself, alone with her little rock. I’m glad you mentioned seeing the one woman play and I enjoyed it so much and had almost forgotten it. This was such a great movie for so many reasons.

    September 30, 2013
    • I never forgot the play, it made a real impression on me. But it’s been long enough and I’ve seen the movie enough that I don’t remember how she did some of the scenes that involved other people in the movie. I’d really like to see the play again.

      September 30, 2013
  4. I have to see this!

    October 1, 2013
  5. I love her quotes and will check out the movie. So true that life has its unexpected twists and turns. It is up to us to keep discovering the magic!

    October 1, 2013
    • Yes! There is still magic to be had!

      October 1, 2013
  6. Lorna Melia #

    I can’t say that I have, because I’m 18 and I’d feel very sorry for myself if I was mid-life right now and in a crisis…
    But I can say that I have seen that movie, and love it when she says “hello wall!” Everybody needs a wall to talk to every now and then.

    October 4, 2013
    • Yes, that does make sense. I’ve mostly just felt it in the way that I don’t know what I want to do “when I grow up”, haha. But I’m learning to do some things that make me happy, and that’s important.

      I like when she says she talks to a rock but of course the rock doesn’t talk back – because he’s a Greek rock and doesn’t understand English. Haha! I talk to my dog. That works for me, and he doesn’t judge me or offer me advice I really don’t want. 😉

      October 4, 2013
  7. My friend quoted Shirley V to me today and I came across your blog post while looking for the quote. Thanks for sharing your thoughts, very insightful. I love the embedded sound bite as well. Thank you

    November 3, 2021

Wade in...

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: