Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Enchanted April

"Enchanted April" (Mike Newell, 1992) Peering is what the folks of "Enchanted April" do: myopic George Briggs (Michael Kitchen) peers at Rose Arbuthnot (Miranda Richardson) when he finds that she's musical; Mrs. Fisher (Joan Plowright) peers at Lottie Wilkins (Josie Lawrence) to determine if she's daft or just stupid; socialite Carolyn Dester (Polly Walker) does the same; and Lottie peers at the Mediterranean and wonders if she is in Heaven. Those peerages are taking a second look, a re-appraisal—the sloughing off of first impressions for the new, reflected in the eyes of the re-appraisers, and reflect the entire film of four women who revive themselves at a Portofino castle one April.

Two church-women, Rose and Lottie are tired of the dreary English rain and their dreary English husbands (Alfred Molina, Jim Broadbent) and take a Spring holiday at an Italian villa offering "Wisteria and Silence," an extravagance that is shared with two ladies who answer their own advertisement: an aristocratic fuss-budget steeped in the Romatic poets (Plowright), and a flapper, desperate to escape the fawning attentions of shallow men (Walker). Things do not start off well. The trip from boat via carriage is a bit like the trip to Dracula's castle. Once there, territories are staked, habits dig in and clash—but Lottie experiences an epiphany the moment she opens her windows in the morning. It might be Heaven, which clashes with Rose's religious convictions. It might be a cessation of struggle, from which one can suddenly find oneself. Or it just might be a course-correction for life-journeys that have lost their way.

Whichever it is, it is a respite, a way out of many fogs, and a chance to realize that, so far away, there is no place like home.
A jolly-good life-affirming flick with a pitch-perfect cast.

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