Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Feel Good Movies: A Life-Affirming Month is Shared in "Enchanted April"

While sitting on a bus in dreary, rainy 1920s London, Lotty Wilkins (Josie Lawrence) spies the following newspaper advertisement:

TO THOSE WHO APPRECIATE
WISTERIA AND SUNSHINE
SMALL MEDIEVAL ITALIAN CASTLE
on the shores of the Mediterranean to
be Let furnished for the month of April.



When she spots an acquaintance, Rose Arbuthnot (Miranda Richardson), reading the same ad at the Nightingale Women’s Club, Lotty decides it must be providence. She sees in Rose a soulmate who also needs a break from her monotonous everyday existence. Lotty proposes that they rent the castle and take a vacation just for themselves. As she explains to Rose: “I’ve been doing things for other people since I was eleven and I don’t feel any better for it.”

To defray the costs, they advertise for two other roommates. Only two women respond: Mrs. Fisher (Joan Plowright), a lonely, elderly woman who wants to “sit in the shade and remember better times” and Caroline Dester (Polly Walker), an attractive socialite tired of being relentlessly pursued by men.

During the month they share together in their lovely chateau surrounded by verdant splendor, these four women learn about each other, gain insight into themselves and their loved ones, and emerge with a new outlook on life. Perhaps everything works out too neatly in the end, but Enchanted April is a joyous, life-affirming film and there’s nothing wrong with that.

The cast is impeccable, with the four leading ladies receiving excellent support from Alfred Molina as Josie’s business-minded husband and Jim Broadbent as Rose’s feckless, but redeemable, husband. Michael Kitchen charmingly plays the owner of the castle, the visually-impaired George Briggs.

Equally impressive is Mike Newell’s subtle direction. The London scenes are photographed in drab, brownish tones, while the color seems to explode with brilliance when the action shifts to Italy. Newell also make effective, constrained use of voiceovers that let us eavesdrop into each character’s thoughts.

Enchanted April was made for BBC television, but released theatrically in the U.S. Its source novel was first adapted for the screen in 1935, but I’ve never seen that version. This one is a film to be cherished.

10 comments:

  1. Toto, I've had the pleasure of seeing this lovely movie, too. You did an amazing job in describing its subtle charms and the artistry with which it was made. ENCHANTED APRIL is also one of those films I seem to appreciate more with multiple viewings. In short, a fine choice for a "feel good" movie.

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  2. Toto, I have always been curious about Enchanted April, it sounds magical.

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  3. toto, you are a wonderful writer. I have not seen this film, but your vivid and poetic description of ENCHANTED APRIL has made me add it to my list (and I mean that literally, as I put it in my Netflix queue). Thank you, toto, for sharing your "feel good" movie!

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  4. Good post Toto..enjoyed it. Haven't seen Enchanted April in years but I do remember it being very good and me enjoying it. Thanks for the trip down memory lane.

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  5. A lovely tribute to a lovely movie -- thanks, Toto.

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  6. Thank you all for your warm and kind comments. I think all of us have yearned for a place to which we can escape, even if only for a short respite, and this film understands and fulfills that need.

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  7. I just came upon your blog in searching for the quote, TO THOSE WHO APPRECIATE... Enchanted April has been one of my favorite movies since it first came out in 1992. I've also read the book by Elizabeth von Arnim and saw the play on Broadway back a few years. I am one of Enchanted April's biggest fans. I've used the picture you have on this post, as my ID picture on my blog, among other online sites. I appreciated finding your post, though it was written over a year ago, so who knows if you will ever read my comment. No matter...thanks!

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  8. Oh, and one other thing. I welcome you to come visit my blog...

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  9. I just realized that my name brings you to my profile, but not my blog, which is The Voracious Bookworm, Formerly Known as Sherril's Myriad of Musings
    http://www.sherrilsmyriadofmusings.blogspot.com/

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  10. Thanks for the nice comments, Sherril. I will make sure the review's author sees them. Will check out your blog, too.

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