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"Enchanted April" Still Enchanting

Enchanted April (1992) directed by Mike Newell, based on the novel by Elizabeth Von Arnim

May 12, 2010

Enchanted April

Posted by Kimmy Sophia Brown

On our maiden movie murmuration, I would like to recommendone of our all time favorite movies, EnchantedApril, which features a stellarcast: Josie Lawrence, Joan Plowright, Polly Walker, Miranda Richardson, Michael Kitchen, Jim Broadbent and Alfred Molina.

I read a review on Amazon.com, that said that you can feelyour pulse slow down while watching this movie. It’s true. It has been said, that sometimes the whole of a thing is more than the sum of its parts. That expression applies to this movie. It has a villa. It has rocks, flowers and sunlight. It has four women of diverse personalities who are beautiful in their own way. They rent the villa on an island off the coast of Italy on the Mediterranean Sea. Two of them have unfulfilling marriages, a third is an elderly woman who lives in the past among her books and their deceased authors, and the fourth is a rich girl who wants to get away from the unwanted attention of grabbing men. As the women emerge from their various forms of emotional hibernation they begin to heal.

Their various struggles gradually dissipate and solutionsbegin to emerge for each of them, as they soak in the Italian sun and enjoy the flowers and the quiet. Relationships heal, friendships bloom, redemption and joy begin to warm their souls. Lottie, (played by Josie Lawrence with humor and pathos), is the first to realize her desire to give love to her oblivious and self-centered husband, Mellersh, played by Alfred Molina. At one point, Lottie says to Rose;

“This place makes me feel flooded with love. The greatthing is to have lots of love about. I was a stingy beast at home, andused to measure and count. I had a queer obsession about justice. It’s only love that’s any good. At home I wouldn’t love Mellersh unless he loved me back, exactly as much, absolute fairness. Did you ever. And as he didn’t, neither did I, and the emptiness of it all!”

The proper and reserved Rose (played with grace and depthby Miranda Richardson) finds a chance to rekindle love with her wayward husband, Frederick (played with varying degrees of repulsiveness and sweetness by Jim Broadbent). Mrs. Fisher, (Joan Plowright) finds her ascerbic and over-prickly demeanor warmed by Lottie and San Salvatore, the villa, itself. Lady Caroline Dester, played by the exotically beautiful, Polly Walker, finds her chance to rest in the sun and begin to nurture herself as she begins to understand the value of internal beauty in herself and others. This occurs especially when she meets San Salvatore’s near-sighted landlord, played by the ever delightful, Michael Kitchen.

Critics have berated the movie for emphasizing the notionof the fulfillment of love as a worthy plot line. As if the desire for love and happiness is formulaic and trite. Well, this film could so easily have gone sicky-sweet, but instead, the performances are masterfully subtle and the story is delicately understated. Many of the shots look to be inspired by Pre-Raphaelite art, with beautiful women wearing silk kimonos in sunlit gardens. It is a movie about hope, and it quenches the world-weary soul.

I recently read an interview with Quentin Tarentino (Inglorious Basterds and Kill Bill) and he made these remarksabout the British film industry:

“When I first came here in 1992 with Reservoir Dogs (1992)the film industry was very dire. The movies were Enchanted April (1992) and crap like that. But that has changed, and this year has highlighted how it’s changed. You guys actually have a genuine honest-to-goodness, bona fide film industry again, and that is fantastic.”

Quentin seems to have totally missed the point of thismovie. Perhaps when Quentin, (who seems to be a good story teller), gets all the violence out of his system, he might like to give it another look and maybe his soul will be fed by it too. There are many sides to life and the side presented by this exceptional film has great depth in the simplicity of its message.

It’s the sort of movie I intend to buy on DVD as gifts fordozens of friends, for years to come.

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