This lovely, 1991 adaptation of Elizabeth Von Arnim's novel has a superb cast and a tone so mellow you can feel your pulse get slower. Josie Lawrence and Miranda Richardson play a pair of unhappily married women who rent an Italian villa for a month, sharing the rent with a crusty Englishwoman (Joan Plowright) and a lonely aristocrat (Polly Walker). Sun, rest, sinking into the green grass for long naps--they all have a soulful effect on the quartet, and then on the men in their lives who make a surprise visit. Mike Newell (Into the West) directs with seeming effortlessness, and it is impossible not to be swayed by the promise of restoration for these burdened characters--or for anyone alive. Wonderful performances all around, including a particularly sensitive one by Alfred Molina and a very funny one by Jim Broadbent. --Tom Keogh
1920年代ですからイタリアとて「楽園」ではなかったはずですが、時代のダークさは極力抑えて、美しい自然と互いの歩み寄りによって人間の心が再生していく節度ある大人のメルヘン。かくも観客を心穏やかにさせる映画は「the height of civilisation」だと思いますね。
The cast is fabulous with Josie Lawrence and Miranda Richardson as Lottie and Rose. Polly Walker is drop dead gorgeous as the glamorous Caroline Dester and Joan Plowright is having tremendous fun with the part of Mrs Fisher. And while it's this ensemble of women the film centers around, the men in their lives are brought beautifully to live by Alfred Molina as Lottie's pompous solicitor husband and a scene stealing Jim Broadbent as Rose's philandering novelist husband, author of racy books albeit under an assumed name. Also worth mentioning is Michael Kitchen who plays the insecure Mr Briggs. The Italian filming location is gorgeous, and the fact that the castle in the film is the very place where Elizabeth von Arnim wrote and set the source novel, adds further poignancy.
A few words about the DVD reviewed Enchanted April [DVD]. The aspect ratio is 4:3, which may be disappointing for some viewers. However, the film was originally made for TV back in the early 1990s, likely with this format in mind. A nice bonus feature on this particular DVD edition is the feature length commentary with director Mike Newell and producer Ann Scott.
It is set just after the first world war and follows the slightly naive ambitions of two unhappily married young women, who after some soul searching take a sparkling, rustic, fragrant flower filled villa on the sunny Italian coast with two other unknown ladies, and slowly its mediterranean magic begins to work on their souls. What unfolds is a subtle and elegant story of four diverse women, who become close friends.
It’s a simple tale which is all the more intelligent for its restrained and understated poise. Thankfully it is a film that does not have to rely on sex, nudity, sensation, magic, profanities, violence and special effects to impress.
The location and photography are stunning and the cast outstanding. Josie Lawrence is a delight as the incurable optimist whose emerging love for life gradually infects all the others, while Polly Walker is perfectly cast as the beautiful languid and world weary reflective aristocrat.
The story unfolds with our group of four women who for different reasons feel hopeless to their life circumstances. As things progress we see how they are all transformed during their stay in Italy, and the foundation for new found and continued happiness is laid; by the end of the film you are left feeling that the characters lives have positively changed for good.
If I had to be nitpicking here, it would have been nice to see further character development and more use made of the beautiful location. But it's still a gentle, sentimental, polished and very enjoyable, if emotionally undemanding film, which I find sometimes you need. It has a very good cast who all give solid accomplished performances. I enjoyed it.
team of actors: it is impossible to imagine a cast better chosen. It would be invidious to single out
one player for especial praise as all are compelling; even so, I must mention the great Miranda Richardson as the meek, self effacing Rose - quite outside her usual range of parts, exceptionally wide
and varied though that is.
To add to the manifold delights of this magical film, it is shot against a ravishingly beautiful Italian
I've owned this in various forms (my own video copy from TV, VHS, and now DVD) for over 20 years now, after catching it quite by accident on TV in the early '90s. I also read the book, having been captivated by the film, but can honestly say that this is one of those rare instances where the film supersedes the book - one of the main reasons for me being the delicate way in which Mr Briggs is given damaged eyesight in the film, allowing him to attach more importance to the beauty within, rather than without. Von Arnim's book treats the developing romance between Briggs and Caroline in a much more predictable fashion, based on her dazzling looks. This small but significant transformation in the film, 'roots' the relations between the characters far better and enables them 'to move on', as Lottie would say - to grow. Indeed, everything about this film seems to be about enabling growth and change, yet maintaining an extraordinary stillness and calm at its core.
From the magical moment when Lottie catches sight of the 'Wisteria and Sunshine' ad in an omnibus on a dull, rainy London day, to the moment when Mrs Fisher's walking stick begins to blossom on the slopes of San Salvatore, overlooking that azure sea, every drop of this film feels precious. An intensely healing experience, yet one which wears its charms lightly - no great revelations or dramatic upheavals. Just a gradual and delicious unfolding amid some of the most glorious scenery on this planet.
PS filmed at Castello Brown, Portofino, (Liguria) if you want to make your way there...
Being low-budget, the DVD has not been blessed with the best of transfers (it was originally shot on 16mm film) so this disc is best watched on a smaller screen with your TV's viewing ratio switched to 4:3. Being a bit of a Blu-Ray fan, I cannot but wish that someone would make a fresh transfer into high definition, because it would look wonderful. That said, don't let this put you off - the DVD is inexpensive, and the magic of the film itself will transport you beyond such concerns. One for a winter's evening, curled up with a glass of wine.
Every so often in life, a choice comes along: do we take this or that path, do we take this or that risk ? Sometimes, we gather up our courage and do things that surprise us - they may not be very spectacular, but once we've done them, we will never be the same again.
ENCHANTED APRIL is about the kind of choices that seem insignificant when they first come upon us, but that lead to experience that is both life-changing and life-enhancing, without which we and those around us would be the poorer.
This is one of those films that are all too rare: smiled upon by the gods from the word go, it has been kissed with greatness. Everything about it is well nigh perfect.
Touching, without ever wallowing in sentimentality, enchanting it certainly is - from start to finish. I defy anyone to be unmoved by this little testament to the joys of being alive.
The leading ladies turn in performances of such quality that they illustrate perfectly what acting should be about: it's so good that you don't know it's happening, you just live each lovely moment with these splendid women, and then want more. There is of course flawless support from the rest of the cast, male and female, beautifully directed by Mike Newell.
A single viewing is good for the soul, so view - and then view again, and again - and like the enchanted holidaymakers who swap their drab and damp and dreary 1920s London for the colour and sun and freshness of Italy, you will be in heaven.
One for the collection.
It presents a cliche - dark to light, storm to peace- in the loveliest way. I have watched it often through the years and still catch my breath when the shutters are opened on that first morning in zitsly.
It is a gentle film, and the atmosphere builds up gradually until by the end, you benefit as much as the characters! Josie Lawrence is very good in it, as is Miranda Richardson - both playing serious parts and doing it excellently - you forget who they are. Alfred Molina also very good. In fact the whole cast (mostly famous) is very good. Nice surprise to see a younger Michael Kitchen in it too. Recommended for any time of year, but particularly dark wet nights at home!
I would highly recommend it for anyone from early years to very elderly audience, there is nothing in it that would shock, to very elderly aunts, grandmothers etc. it is very amusing too. I saw the original on tv then bought a video tape, then I found out I could buy this beautiful Film on DVD.
I am giving it to lots of friends this year for Christmas as I know them well enough to know they will love it too.
Did not even bother to finish it.
How often have we dreamed of some sunshine in our lives, and yet felt guilty about our desires? The picturesque setting conjures up a wish for self improvement and a reflection on our relationships and purpose in life.. There is humour as a contrast mainly by the knowing staff observing the Brits making fools of themselves. Soon San Salvatore weaves its magic spell, and eventually a sunny atmosphere pervades the rest of their lives.
Very therapeutic, and highly recommended.
It is one of the most beautiful, uplifting films you are likely to see. Four very different women leave rainy, late Edwardian London to go and share a villa in Tuscany for the month of April. There they discover life and love and the meaning of happiness - yet it is never sentimental or clicheed or superficial, it is a truly moving and affecting and joyful film. Superb performances all round - Joan Plowright, Josie Lawrence, Miranda Richardson, Polly Walker, Michael Kitchen, Alfred Molina, Jim Broadbent - all just wonderful.
Watch this film - the only downside is that it will make you long to go and spend a month in a villa in Tuscany, and that is not an option for most of us! But at least for the length of this magical film we can imagine we are there with them.
If you haven't seen it before you are in for an absolute treat! If you have, you don't need me to tell you how glorious it is.