92 of 101 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Ten stars! What a wonderful surprise
I had never heard of this movie when my husband rented it on DVD - and it is such a marvelous treasure. It's a luminous coming-of-age story about an English child/girl/woman (Ramola Garai) who lives with her father (Bill Nighy), a successful author suffering prolonged writer's block, gorgeous slightly older sister, bohemian arty stepmother (Tara Fitzgerald), and...
Published on December 29, 2003 by Peggy Vincent
49 of 52 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Why did they ditch half of the book's humor?
I Capture the Castle is one of my favorite books and I was predisposed to love the film, but it came up short. The movie remains true to the book's plot, but adopted a seriocomic tone that was too heavy on the serious.
The charm of the book lies in the wit of the narrator, Cassandra, even when she writes about her family's poverty, her father's temper, etc. It's all...
Published on January 21, 2004 by a reader
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92 of 101 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Ten stars! What a wonderful surprise,
This review is from: I Capture the Castle [VHS] (VHS Tape)I had never heard of this movie when my husband rented it on DVD - and it is such a marvelous treasure. It's a luminous coming-of-age story about an English child/girl/woman (Ramola Garai) who lives with her father (Bill Nighy), a successful author suffering prolonged writer's block, gorgeous slightly older sister, bohemian arty stepmother (Tara Fitzgerald), and bespectacled young brother. They move to a cold, drafty, leaky, romantic and picturesque castle in the middle of nowhere, fall behind on the rent, wear an odd shade of green that resulted when the arty and lovely stepmom dyed damn near everything one day.
Rose, the older sister, yearns for wealth. The property on which they live is owned by two brothers who come to inspect things - and that's where the real story begins. Narrated through the POV of Cassandra (Garai), the movie turns into an utterly engaging, wise and wonderful coming-of-age tale of hopes, dreams, plots and counterplots, dashed yearnings, and a painful journey toward adulthood. Hilarious and bittersweet at the same time. Absolutely first-rate performances by the entire cast in a film which ends with the realistic but still hopeful line in `words of one syllable': I love. I have loved. I will love.
I LOVED THIS MOVIE.
49 of 52 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Why did they ditch half of the book's humor?,
This review is from: I Capture the Castle (DVD)I Capture the Castle is one of my favorite books and I was predisposed to love the film, but it came up short. The movie remains true to the book's plot, but adopted a seriocomic tone that was too heavy on the serious.
The charm of the book lies in the wit of the narrator, Cassandra, even when she writes about her family's poverty, her father's temper, etc. It's all told from a comic slant that contrasts with the subject matter nicely. The movie lost that slant and wallowed in melodrama too often. For instance, the eccentric, selfish, but extremely charming, father becomes simply dysfunctional in the film, stripped of his charisma.
The biggest flaw of the film is that the director, instead of standing in the narrator's 1930-ish shoes, imposes a modern context on the subject, which transformed it into a run-of-the-mill drama, and strips out most of the book's wittiness. The movie even adds a ridiculous touchy-feely reconciliation scene between the father and Cassandra at the end that would have made Dodie Smith puke.
Sigh . . . Maybe someone who's more deft with period pieces will try a lighter hand with this material and get it right in the future.
21 of 24 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Delightful coming of age story.......,
This review is from: I Capture the Castle (DVD)I must admit that I haven't read the book but I love British comedy/drama so I purchased this dvd without even having seen the film before. I must say I have been very pleased with my choice.
I enjoy this film immensely. It brings to mind that other fascinating British adaptation, "Cold Comfort Farm" starring Kate Beckinsale. "I Capture the Castle" has that sweet, romantic, dreamy feel that completely enraptures the viewer with its charm, humor and wit.
The story centers around 17 year old Cassandra Mortmain (Romola Garai of "Nicholas Nickleby" and "Daniel Deronda") and her eccentric family. Her father (Bill Nighy of "Love Actually" and "Underworld") is an author who hasn't written a word in 10 years. Her sister Rose (Rose Byrne of "Troy" and "Star Wars Episode II) yearns to marry well and get away from their dreary, depressed circumstances. Her stepmother Topaz (Tara Fitzgerald of "The Tenant of Wildfell Hall") is an eccentric artist who tries to keep her family together. Cassandra and her brother Thomas appear to be the only sensible beings in their household. Everyone else seems to be falling apart. Then there is their Adonis-like helper Stephen (an eye-opening role for Henry Cavill of "Count of Monte Cristo") who really does remind me of a Greek god.
The Mortmain's lives are turned upside down with the arrival of the wealthy Cotton brothers (Henry Thomas of "E.T." and "I'm With Lucy" and Marc Blucas). Soon enough, Stephen falls in love with Cassandra who falls in love with older brother Simon Cotton who falls in love with Rose. Before long, Rose is planning her wedding. The story climaxes when secrets are revealed and the phrase "you cannot control who you fall in love with" really does come to play.
The highlights of this film are the brilliant performances, namely of Romola Garai, Rose Byrne and Bill Nighy; the gorgeous and dreamy cinematography; and the enchanting story. It is, above all, a story of love and hope, and Cassandra's optimism throughout the story really shines through. I highly recommend it!
17 of 19 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars wonderful adaptation of a well-loved book,
This review is from: I Capture the Castle (DVD)I Capture the Castle, based on the 1933 novel of the same name by Dodie Smith, beautifully captures the characters and plot elements of the book and also stands on its own as an entertaining film. It is the story of a poor and isolated family in the English countryside. 17-year old Cassandra offers a charming (if flawed) narration to her family story -- the tale of how her brilliant novelist father's long-standing writer's block has affected her beautiful sister Rose and free-spirit stepmother Topaz. Things seem to be going nowhere but downhill until two brothers show up -- the new owners of the family's rundown castle. Though the plot has few surprises, the film is still quite engaging and fun, thanks in large part to a fine adaptation, great cast and terrific design. One needn't have read the book to enjoy the film, and those who love the book should not be disappointed.
DVD extras include a commentary track with the director, writer and producer; an interview with Ramola Garai, who plays Cassandra (8 minutes); 4 deleted scenes and an alternate ending; a trailer. Language and subtitles are available in English only.
24 of 29 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Book was wonderful - movie was not,
This review is from: I Capture the Castle (DVD)It generally goes without saying that a film adaptation is never going to be as good as the novel on which it is based, but I can't think of another novel-into-film that missed the mark so completely as this one. The book is insightful and touching but also very funny, with some really wonderful, original language. It's clever and poignant and has one of the most delightful narrators out there.
The movie, on the other hand, gets so bogged down with sentimentality that it just drags along, devoid of energy. There are some beautiful locations and the cast looks okay and seems capable enough, but the film has been directed as a heavy drama with deep dark pain at its core-- instead of a romantic coming-of-age story that mixes comedy, drama and quirky charm in equal measure. Everyone in the movie just seems so miserable, even in scenes where they're supposed to be happy.
The voice-over narration is one of the biggest problems. In the book the story is told through the journal entries of 17-year-old Cassandra Mortmain, a very bright aspiring writer, and her voice has an intensity, precociousness and excitement that just hurls the reader blissfully along; but in the movie Cassandra's voice-over narration lacks every single one of these qualities and instead has a solemn, mournful tone. This is probably more the director's fault than the actress's, although some blame should also go to the screenwriter, who has the unfortunate habit of substituting her own annoyingly mediocre narration and dialogue in place of the often brilliant language that's readily available in Dodie Smith's novel. The screenwriter also seems to have felt the need to invent more than one scene completely out of nowhere; one huge scene in particular between Cassandra and her father is not only NOT in the book, but it contradicts everything the book stands for-- and in such a maudlin, obvious, after-school-special type of way. Sadly, they really blew it with this interpretation of a thoroughly enjoyable book.
8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars different than the book, but still okay,
By A Customer
This review is from: I Capture the Castle (DVD)I was prepared to be very disappointed by this movie, as I've loved the book for years. But the film version actually made me think about the serious aspects of the plot - aspects that are under-emphasized in the book due to the narrator's dry British wit. The film focuses almost exclusively on the melodramatic, but it made me realize that the events of the book really are quite serious: the family is nearly starving, the father did serve in prison for pulling a knife on the mother, and Rose's fiance kisses her sister, who then falls in love with him. The film made me think about the deeper story of the Mortmain family, behind Cassandra's humorous narrative. If you've read the book and loved it, don't worry that the film will ruin it for you.
7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars great performances...,
This review is from: I Capture the Castle (DVD)quirky, coming of age film. I was glad to see such fine performances by "character" actors like Bill Nighy, Tara Fitgerald, and bravo performance by Henry Thomas! I think the gist of the film should be more about that being truthful with oneself and others, while painful, is always better than living a lie. I'd say this is definately a keeper, though I probably wouldn't buy new as I'm one of those saps who wanted a "fairytale" ending. Otherwise, 4 stars.
10 of 12 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Let this Castle capture you,
This review is from: I Capture the Castle (DVD)I CAPTURE THE CASTLE is an inordinately beautiful film, blessed by a fine script adapted from the successful novel by Dodie Smith, a fine director who knows how to pace a film, beautiful cinematography, and a cast that is impeccable. "Capturing the castle" is both a real storyline and a metaphor for the struggle to find the self at the doorstep of maturity. What begins as a fairytale adventure - a small family moves into a real though dilapidated castle after the father is released from custody for wife abuse - becomes a withering fantasy as reality creeps into their lives. Since the mother died the father is unable to continue his successful flow of writing and hopes that living in a castle will open his writer's block. His daughters and son must adapt to the pauper life despite their 'castle', share their dreams, and eventually the light toward escape comes in the form of two American brothers who now own the property on which the castle sits. At this point the story frolics through the romances of the sisters, the addition of a stepmother and the eventual resolution of dreams for one daughter and the comfortable longing for love for the other daughter.
The cast includes the radiant Romola Garai and Rose Byrne as the sisters, Bill Nighy as the blocked writer/father, Tara Fitzgerald (VERY sensitive actress) as the stepmother, Henry Thomas and Marc Bluca as the American brothers, and one Henry Cavill as Stephen - the beautiful Adonis boy who remains in the background and serves only as a sensual propellant to the girl's grounded dreams.
In a field of movies that try very hard to be Oscar contenders, I CAPTURE THE CASTLE seems content to be exactly what it is - a luminously beautiful simple film that will capture your heart.
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Of less value then the book but holding some of its magic,
This review is from: I Capture the Castle (DVD)The book by Dodie Smith is such a superb read, with such a different air of time and place and a sincere inner growing up account, that any movie aspiring to rise up to its magic is sure to fail. The book manages to captivate the reader from its first pages in its detailed account of the eccentric weird family. Having said that I have to admit that my viewing was largely affected by the fact I read the book beforehand and thus necessarily damaged my objective judgement of this film as a stand-alone work of art.
Yes, compared to the book this is a much inferior work of art. I am not sure the viewers are able to grasp the depth of the inner turmoil both sisters are undergoing, the nature of the father's work or the whole family involvement in this work. The large impact the father's writing (or lack of writing) has on their lives and not just money wise. The film, I admit, is nice to watch and the characters portrayal is very close to what I imagined while reading. The castle itself is amazing and lends its atmosphere to the whole movie - you can almost feel how damp and cold it is. In this case only I fell that seeing is better then reading. However, I remained feeling that if I had only seen the movie I would not have truly understood the story. This is not just a love story. Romantic love is just a vehicle to grow up, or so I understood it, and bonds of love and caring between family members are also one of the main themes of this work.
All actors have fresh, very fitting faces, close to the way I perceived them upon reading. Romola Garai especially is great as Cassandra, a girl in an "in between" stage, turning from a young adolescent to a clever woman whose personal aches and pains bring on a better understanding of other people. Tara Fitzgerald is captivating as the stepmother Topaz.
In spite of my criticism I give this movie 4 points, as it is quite a different unique movie that holds some of the book's magic.
8 of 10 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars "There is only one page left to write on...",
This review is from: I Capture the Castle (DVD)As this coming-of-age drama opens, best-selling author James (Bill Nighy) sees a crumbling old castle and immediately falls in love with it. Thinking it the perfect place to write his sequel, he moves his family into it. Twelve years later, he hasn't been able to write a word and the family is penniless. Daughters Rose (Rose Byrne) and Cassandra (Romola Garai) hate living in the isolated ruin and are desperately tired of being poor. The new landlords come to visit; Simon Cotton (Henry Thomas) and his brother are rich, young, and single. Rose sets her sights on Simon and vows to marry him for his money, even if she doesn't love him. And younger sister Cassandra wants very much to be in love, too.
The story is narrated by Cassandra as she writes in her diary. Romola Garai is perfect as the plain, thoughtful younger sister, the lovely Byrne is convincing as the flirty big sister, and Henry Thomas is a sincere suitor. Bill Nighy steals the show with his larger-than-life personality and manic behavior. The year 1936 is reproduced in fine detail, and the English countryside is beautifully photographed. It's a sweet little movie about growing up and learning to accept one's family that would most appeal to teens, I think.
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I Capture the Castle by Tim Fywell (DVD - 2003)