Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Period Piece Review: Enchanted April

In my continued attempts to (slowly) increase my period piece repertoire, I was searching for a film set in my favorite decade, the 1920s.  As luck would have it, I stumbled across something that was not The Great Gatsby (although I have to admit that this saddened me greatly as there really is no other story that fully encompasses the roaring 20s other than Gatsby.  See this post).  However, I wanted something fun and lighthearted to watch - as opposed to the death of a dream - and so I settled on Enchanted April.  I went into this film completely blind.  I knew nothing of the plot and very little about anything else.   I was not drawn by the promise of great acting - though Alfred Molina and Jim Broadbent play supporting roles - nor was I intrigued by action or mystery.  It's a good thing, because this film has neither.  But do not let that dissuade you.  While there was not anything terribly exciting about the film, nor anything even remotely surprising, it was (as I am becoming apt at saying) a lovely, evenly paced story about friendship, love, and the power of a much-needed vacation.  Need I say more?
(Mrs. Fisher, Lottie, Caroline, and Rose)
I don't know about you, but on a few occasions I have reached a point in my working life that called for a serious vacation intervention.  Lottie, Rose, Caroline, and Mrs. Fisher, the four leading ladies in this female-centric film, experience a similar crisis.  Although their crisis is far more serious and centers around them questioning the very state of their lives and marriages.  

One dreary London afternoon, Lottie sees in ad in a newspaper advertising a castle in San Salvatore Italy for rent.  It promises sunshine, wisteria, and most of all, an escape from the ordinary, mundane life she leads with her ungrateful and unaffectionate English husband.  She convinces Rose, a complete stranger and a kindred spirit of sorts, to go in with her to rent the Italian castle for the month of April.  Realizing they cannot afford the trip on their own, they place an ad in the paper and recruit two more unlikely vacationers - Caroline Dester and Mrs. Fisher - to join them.  Each woman has her own reason for wishing to escape and each finds exactly what she is looking for: a breath of fresh air and a new beginning.  

The film is based on the 1922 novel The Enchanted April by Elizabeth von Armin and was released in 1993.  Despite being rather predictable and at times just barely skimming the surface of the real human emotion that would probably be involved in this type of emotional retreat, the film is entertaining and easy to watch.  I laughed at Lottie's silliness, identified with Rose's feelings of inadequacy, teared up at Mrs. Fisher's loneliness, and cheered Caroline's independent nature.  Despite the odd premise and the unlikelihood that this is actually a good film,  I thoroughly enjoyed myself.  The film has a very Under the Tuscan Sun feel to it; the two stories are remarkably similar.  Watching the characters begin to unwind and relax once they had fled the cold and damp of London and reached the lush and sun-kissed hills of Italy was incredibly satisfying.  It was extremely relaxing to watch each person fall into the place that they should be.  I especially enjoyed Mr. Brigg's character.  The owner of the castle, he drops in on the ladies renting his house on his way to Rome and inadvertently falls under the same spell by which they all seem to be bewitched.
(Caroline and Mr. Briggs)  
The costumes are delightful, the music well-suited to the film, and the pace is ever so leisurely.  While not a movie I would pick up to watch often, I am glad I took the time.  Enchanted April is just that, enchanting.  See you in Italia!

1 comment:

  1. I saw this one about a year ago and you spelled out my feelings to a t. And besides, I will see anything Jim Broadbent! ANYTHING.