Enchanted April Cover

Based on a novel by popular turn of the last-century author, Elizabeth von Arnim, this is a gentle tale of four women and their spring holiday in a charming small castle on the Italian Riviera, a place full of wisteria and sunshine … and renewal.

Lottie Wilkins (Josie Lawrence) is fussy and down-trodden, married to the overbearing Mellersh (Alfred Molina). Lottie and her friend Rose Arbuthnot (Miranda Richardson) who is just as unhappy in her marriage to Frederick the author of racy novels (Jim Broadbent) who is not above flirting – or even more – with other women. It is drab and rainy, in post-WWI London, and the two women want to get away for a holiday from the rain, their dreary lives and unhappy marriages. And like a miracle, they discover an advertisement for a castle for rent; but to make it work, they must invite two more people to share expenses. They find the elderly widow, Mrs. Fisher – living on memories of better days, when she was not relatively poor, and was friends with many of the literary figures of that day – but not Keats, as she acidly points out to the other ladies. The final member of their quartet is the beautiful socialite, Lady Caroline Dester (Polly Walker), who wants to get away from the exhausting social whirl – but mostly away those men in it.

So this odd and apparently incompatible quartet are off to Italy, and a month-long stay in a picture-perfect mellowed-stone castle, set in a marvelous garden, overlooking the sea – and the remainder of the plot unfolds at a leisurely pace. The castle is as magical as Lottie and Rose had hoped, and over the weeks it works on all of them: Mrs. Fisher’s prickly nature mellows, as she becomes a kind of matriarch. Lady Caroline, astonishingly enough, finds love in the form of the castle’s eccentric musician owner. Rose and her husband renew their own affections, and Lottie – initially rather pathetic and ineffectual – emerges as a serene and wise presence, at the very heart of this odd and self-selected family. The sense of place and time is impeccable, and the castle itself is almost another character.

This movie is highly recommended for anyone like me, who is sick to death of movies containing car-chases, massive explosions and endless rounds of machine-gun fire. The only extra included is a commentary by director Mike Newell and producer Ann Scott. The DVD is available from Amazon.com and other retail outlets.

Sgt. Mom is a free-lance writer and member of the Independent Authors Guild who lives in San Antonio and contributes to the on-line literary magazine, The Deepening. Her current book project, “The Adelsverein Trilogy” is also available at Amazon.com and selected local outlets. More about her books is at her website www.celiahayes.com.

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