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Enchanting Period Drama
on 27 November 2017
If you like well written and acted period drama this should be just the thing for you. Lottie and Rose are two reasonably well off middle class Englishwomen, trapped in loveless marriages, who decide to escape the miserable London winter and their humdrum everyday lives for a month by renting a castle in sunny Italy. To help pay expenses, they invite two more Englishwomen to share the castle. Socially awkward Lottie is set on being happy and seeing the best in everybody while making everybody around her happy as well. Deeply religious Rose has a rather less positive outlook on life, and the dazzlingly beautiful socialite Caroline Dester and the snobbish late Victorian Mrs Fisher seem rather less than perfect housemates for them. The arrival of Lottie's and Rose's husbands and of the owner of the castle, the shy Mr Briggs, initially makes for a few awkward moments, but under the influence of the beautiful surroundings, everything in the lives and relationships among the group falls into place.
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 However, the film was originally made for TV back in the early 1990s, likely with this format in mind.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.