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This review is from: Enchanted April [VHS] (VHS Tape)
Mike Newell's film casts a seductive, mesmerizing spell on its audience. I strongly encourage you to see it if you have not.
Josie Lawrence leads a strong cast as Lottie Wilkins, a dowdy London housewife who we meet in the film's first frames trudging through post-WW I London. We meet Alfred Molina as her overbearing husband, Mellersh, who eyes all relationships as potential business opportunities, and sees his wife as not much more than a pet.
Lottie is riding on the bus in the dreary rain one day when she sees an advertisement on the back of the paper for an Italian Castle to be let for the month of April among the "Wisteria and Sunshine". Lottie's life hasn't allowed her much love or friendship, but she decides that she MUST take this April Holiday at San Salvatori. She approaches Rose Arbuthnot, who she barely knows, but has seen looking sad at Church services.
Rose is played by Miranda Richardson in a performance that suggests, if anything, that she has had her happiness even more suppressed than Lottie. Her husband, Arthur, is played by Jim Broadbent in full ruddy-faced glory. Arthur is a hedonistic author who writes pulpy trash novels with names like "Theodocia, the Slave Princess". He also chases after other young women who come closer to meeting his ideal of fun than his pious wife.
Lottie and Rose secure the rent of the villa and decide to advertise for a couple of other ladies to share the expense. Joan Plowright plays Mrs. Fisher, an older lady who grew up bouncing on the knee of the great English Poets of the day. Blundering Lottie asks "Oh, did you know Keats?" a century and a half after Keat's day.
"No", Mrs. Fisher replies with disdain. "And I didn't know Shakespeare or Chaucer either."
Polly Walker is the poster-girl of the group as Lady Caroline Dester, daughter of an extremely rich and aristocratic English Lord. Caroline moves in the most social of circles, but she has grown tired of being around men who paw and grab after her. She just wants a little time to "smooth her feathers".
Michael Kitchen plays George Briggs, the owner of the Italian Castle. Mr. Briggs is something of a mystery, as it appears that he is a wealthy English businessman, but he is also a gifted musician in addition to owning an Italian Castle, complete with a full staff. He is extremely short-sighted and doesn't bother to keep his immediate surroundings tidy. His few scenes are among the best of the movie.
These 4 ladies converge upon the Italian Castle and there... magic happens. I could go into detail, but I'd spoil you the pleasure of finding out for yourself. There are several times when the plot throws a wrench into the works, and in a different, lesser story, the movie would have degenerated into hysterical "drama". The way this film reveals and resolves these confrontations is like.... a breath of fresh Italian breeze through the Wisteria. I would ask only that you consider the shots of the moon in the penultimate scene - consider what the size and location of the moon means with regard to the tone of what is happening in the scene in the foreground. It is delightful.
If you can watch "Enchanted April" and not be charmed I feel truly sorry for you. It is on my very short list of very favorite films.
After years inexplicably not in release on DVD, it is finally available. Cheers!
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Showing 1-6 of 6 posts in this discussion
Initial post: Oct 24, 2006 7:00:12 PM PDT
Jim M. Rowe says:
Right on, brother! It IS "inexcusable" that this movie is not yet available on DVD. When I bought my first DVD player, years ago, this was the first movie I wanted to buy and view in glorious digital high definition quality. But it wasn't available then, and years later it is STILL not available. Which seems almost immoral when you consider the quality of some of the junk that has been released. Until it is, my wife and I will continue to enjoy this movie on VHS tape ... we own 2 copies, so we always have one available to lend to a friend who hasn't seen it yet!
In reply to an earlier post on Feb 15, 2007 11:16:34 AM PST
Amazon Customer says:
I would buy a DVD. I have the tape, but it doesn't show well on wide-screen tv. And the rights to the play are now available and it's being produced in many towns, including mine. I play the one servant in the play, sassy Costanza. So much fun!
Posted on Jul 1, 2010 10:00:05 PM PDT
it is now on DVD, but this is still a fine review, thank you
Posted on May 13, 2011 9:50:05 PM PDT
What a lovely, well written review. "Enchanted April" is also among my favorites. Glad to know it is now available on DVD.
In reply to an earlier post on May 13, 2011 11:32:35 PM PDT
Mark J. Fowler says:
Thank you for your kind words. :-)
Posted on Jan 10, 2012 9:51:59 AM PST
an excellent review that i could not improve on!
IF you are peaceful enough, you will be caught entirely by this movie.
i'm a bit like lottie, so it was her character that moved my heart.
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