on 4 November 2006
I first saw this film on television during Christmas 2004 and instantly fell in love with it. The storyline focuses on the charming, deeply eccentric and penniless Mortmain family, in particular, the progress of the two loveable but different sisters, Cassandra and Rose.
Rarely, the whole cast is perfect- it is impossible to do each character justice in this review, but suffice it to say that Romola Garai charms as Cassandra, Bill Nighy and Tara Fitzgerald give excellent performances as respectively troubled and bohemian James and Topaz Mortmain. Importantly, the relationships between the characters are both convinving and touching.
It also deserves to be said that this adaptation is filmed beautifully, the script is sensitively executed and the soundtrack is delightful.
I can understand that a film that focuses on a rather eccentric 1930s family and explores first love is not going to appeal to everyone, but if you like heartwarming, intelligent family drama then this is a must see.
Dodie Smith's "I Capture The Castle" has to be one of my favourite books of all time, and so naturally I was a bit sceptical when the film was made. To be fair, no adaptation of it is going to measure up to the book, simply because Dodie Smith's prose is so beautiful, detailed and involving, but this stays remarkably faithful to the book, I'm very glad to say. Understandably some things had to be left out, which robs the film of the magic the book had, but there's no way they could have got round that, unless they'd made the film about 6 hours long!
Bill Nighy is first-rate as Cassandra's cantankerous father, an author who wrote a ground-breaking experimental novel 12 years before but hasn't written a word since, forcing his family to end up living in extreme poverty in a crumbling ruin of a castle. At first I didn't take to Tara Fitzgerald's version of Topaz. I felt she was too cynical and brittle, as after all the adorable Topaz (one of my very favourite characters in fiction) is an incurable romantic, but she grew on me, and eventually I could see that she was simply bringing out Topaz's practical side more. The two girls playing Rose (who yearns for "a little black suit with matching suede accessories", and peach-coloured towels in her bathroom) and Cassandra are also well-cast and play their characters with great commitment. And I'm glad more was done with Thomas, the bespectacled, academic little brother. In the book he often comes across as the only member of the family with any clear idea of what's going on everywhere, and they've brought this out in the film.
The castle itself was a bit disappointing, looking sometimes like left-over sets from the BBC's "Gormenghast" series. In the book it seems almost like a real place, it's so vivid, but here it seemed more like the setting for a fantasy film, all blurred around the edges. But that's a small criticism really. I feel this was always going to be a difficult one to film, but they've done a pretty good job here. Highly recommended, especially if you're a big romantic at heart.
on 27 July 2005
Based on a British novel by Dodie Smith, I Capture the Castle is an absolutely marvelous exploration of teenage love and mismatched romance. Beautifully filmed, subtly acted, and charming from beginning to end, this film is touching, funny, romantic, perceptive, and full of color, verve, and character. And the film also brings 1930's England to life like no other film has managed to do in recent years.
I Capture the Castle is narrated in the first person by seventeen-year-old Cassandra (Romola Garai). Cassandra is a dreamy and wistful kind of girl who obsessively writes in her dairy and possesses a vivid romantic imagination. Cassandra is the younger sister of the flighty and more beautiful redheaded Rose (Rose Byrne). It's 1936, and they live in a crumbling, leaky, and cold rural English castle that James (Bill Nighy), their novelist dad has leased to inspire his next masterpiece.
Bad times have recently fallen on the family. Due to an accident that involved their mother, James now suffers writers block and has become a seedy, lanky, and desperate-looking man. He scored a brilliant success 20 years ago with his first novel, but now he's been artistically silent and fallow ever since, a pale shadow of what he once was. The family indulges him, hoping against hope that he'll eventually find artistic inspiration, while they try desperately to eke out a miserly and penny-pinching living.
The girls, especially Rose, despair about escaping their dank, dreary world. Only kid brother Thomas (Joe Sowerbutts) is untroubled by the family's debt and decay. Thankfully, Rose finally sees a way to escape her parsimonious existence, when two wealthy and handsome American brothers arrive at the castle to claim their inheritance.
Hardy, butch, and blustery Neil (Marc Blucas) is distrustful of the family's neediness, and views both Rose and Cassandra as gold diggers, while the earnest, bookish, and more sensitive Simon (Henry Thomas) soon falls for the money-hungry Rose. Simon also has eyes for Cassandra, as does Stephen (Henry Cavill), a handsome and sexy farmhand. Watching over the proceedings is the flamboyant Mrs. Cotton, the boys' wealthy, chic mother (played by the wonderful Sinead Cusack).
As the story unfolds, the lovely and naïve Cassandra finds herself getting caught in the middle of smoldering passions and misguided romance. She's never quite certain what or whom she wants and spends her days trying to decide within her heart what she should do. Should she admit her feelings to Simon who is still smitten with Rose, or should she commit to Stephen who has always harbored a secret desire for her?
Unlike her radiant but avaricious sister Rose - who is faced with a character-defining choice between love and money, and chooses money - Cassandra at least grasps the countless value of the former, whose heartbreak always can be tempered by hope. For Cassandra, true Love is a risky, and unpredictable endeavor and almost always illusive.
I Capture the Castle is British film making at its best. With director, Tim Fywell, gently and tenderly transporting us to the genteel era of prewar England. Even the story's very discretion is appealing. We know that sex is going on and fueling the action, but it's mostly hidden from our view and only strategically hinted at.
But what makes this film really shine are the actors. Filled with pretty people - Blucas, Cavill, and Thomas are especially attractive; it's actually the appealing young actresses who play Rose and Cassandra who really steal the film. Like delicate English roses they constantly light up the screen, one as sturdy and as robust as the earth, and the other, in love with love, unapologetically obsessed with dreams of money and wealth. Mike Leonard July 05.
on 7 January 2004
I fell totally in love with the book from the first time I read it,so I was really looking forward to the film coming out. And I found that it was just as beautiful as the book,the stars the producers choose were exactly like I had seen them in the book, Ramola Garai(Cassandra) was so totally perfect in the role! Bill Nighy(her father) was excellent and so were all of the characters. The music as well,I really loved. My whole family really enjoyed this film because it is just such a beautiful film,it is very funny,sad and bittersweet. An total must see for anyone!
on 10 April 2004
The story of an eccentric and impoverished family, whose social opportunities and income are suffering due to father's extreme case of writer's block. The practical solution of the 'consciously naive' daughters is to secure marriage to a wealthy man. The ensuing tale is of entrapment, gold-digging, elopment, and desperately unrequited love.
The film moves at a very gentle pace, reflecting the slow intensity of emotions and life of the 30s, and the sheltered experience of the two sisters. As the emotions build, I foind their story very absorbing, funny, and moving. Love is an uncontrollable external force that brings as much heartache as happiness. The characters are totally at the mercy of cupid's arrow; despite their best efforts to take control of their lives, love is what defines them in the end.
The film is beautiful to look at, in scenes, costumes and acting. The sisters' characters and plight are convincing, often more frustrating than entirely agreeable. It is well worth watching and even revisiting for its old-fashioned approach to young love and awakening. I really enjoyed it!
on 12 February 2004
Those having read the novel, and indeed those who haven't will, on ending the film feel positively moved. The story beautifully depicts the novel and the actors bring light and depth into the much loved characters from the book, especially the new-found talent of Romola Garai who magnificantly portrays the tenderness and angst of the lead role Cassandra. The score and the setting of the film are timeless, also and are definitely worth a mention. From start to finish you will be enthralled in this magical tale of family, growing up and of course, love.
on 20 March 2004
I really enjoyed that film. The actors are tremendous. I was particularly taken with Romola Garai who plays Cassandra.
It is a romantic film, true, but with none of the silliness usually associated with them.Feelings ring true, pain seems real and that story of first love is as moving as can be.It is a feel-good film which never insults the viewer's intelligence.
I recommend it!
on 4 January 2010
I just loved it. It was a pleasure to see actors such as Romola Garai, Henry Cavill and Rose Byrne looking so young and talented. I didn't know the book and I didn't see the movie when it was out in France, so I watched it totally unbiased. The love triangle was interesting to watch but somehow I wished the story would have ended differently. Anyway, it was a journey through love and unhappiness towards adulthood for Cassandra, but also for her sister Rose ! We can follow Cassandra's inner struggle through the diary she is writing. In fact, except for Rose (and I really don't know why her, after all she seems so selfish and the viewer don't know why everyone loves her so much), no-one gets what he or she hopes or wishes for !
on 20 November 2011
If you have read the book and enjoyed it then the film will not dissapoint.
The film really evokes the atmosphere of the book.
Great cast, great acting, great scenery. Enjoy!
As this coming-of-age drama opens, best-selling author James (Bill Nighy) falls in love with a crumbling castle. 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, the family is penniless, and daughters Rose (Rose Byrne) and Cassandra (Romola Garai) hate living in this 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.