Enchanted April Review
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In rainy, post-WWI, 1920s London, a reserved Lottie Wilkins (comedian Josie Lawrence) and emotionally desperate Rose Arbutnot (Miranda Richardson) answer an advert looking for some women to share an old villa on the Italian coast. Both women need some time away from their increasingly unhappy marriages and their condescending husbands (played by Alfred Molina and Jim Broadbent, respectively).

The two women are joined at the villa by an older widow, the grumpy and persnickety Mrs. Fisher, played with great pathos by Joan Plowright. Also at the Italian hideaway is Caroline Dester (Polly Walker), a beautiful, young socialite with a flapper bob, who oozes aloofness and a vibrant sexuality. Dester is there to get away from men, also; but, in her case, itís because of their increasingly unwelcome advances. All four women come together as opposites, finding their place on the beautiful island where they can mediate and ruminate on what awaits them back in the real world.

  
 
Inner monologues come to life as we get to know these ladies, their hopes, their fears, and their loves. But, most of all, the narrative allows us to wile away the sunny Italian days with each of these characters, as they work through their conflicts and slowly come to understand each other. However, pretty soon, their perfect escape is confounded by the arrival of Lottie and Roseís husbands, who must now come to terms with the fact that their wives may not be the same creatures who left their homes.

Enchanted April isnít a laugh-out-loud funny comedy of the Richard Curtis (Four Weddings and a Funeral) variety; itís light and reserved, with a delicate sense of humor. Surprisingly, when Enchanted April was first shown in Britain, it was as a TV movie. But this delight of a film rises beyond the expectations and promise of a movie of the week. The story (based on the novel by Elizabeth Von Arnim and adapted by playwright Peter Barnes) retains a novelesque quality, as it gently and effortlessly rolls out a slow, reserved meditation on friendship, relationships, and the need to escape the mundane. The cast, all accomplished stage actors, are exceptional, playing off each other with wonderful chemistry. And director Mike Newell imbues the scenery and story with such a magical quality that you canít help but think that the castle and its surroundings must have some kind of miraculously restorative powers.

Is this more of a movie that women will appreciate? I would have to say yes. However, if you simply enjoy a well-written narrative with beautifully developed and fleshed-out characters, then Enchanted April wonít let you down. The pace is languid, like a restful day in the summer, where problems just fade as the sound of the birds and the surf linger. The coast of Italy has never looked so inviting.

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