by Kevin Carr
|| MOVIE: ** (out of 5 stars)
DVD EXPERIENCE: **1/2 (out of 5 stars)
Miranda Richardson as ROSE ARBUTHNOT
Josie Lawrence as LOTTIE WILKINS
Polly Walker as CAROLINE DESTER
Joan Plowright as MRS. FISHER
Alfred Molina as MELLERSH WILKINS
Michael Kitchen as GEORGE BRIGGS
Jim Broadbent as FREDERICK ARBUTHNOT
Directed by: Mike Newell
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When two proper English women decide they want to take a vacation from their humdrum lives and husbands, they discover a beautiful place on the Italian Riviera. In order to pay for the place, they invite two other women with them – one a free-spirited socialite and the other a prim widow. Over their week in the country, they clash with each other, discover some drama in their relationships (especially when their husbands show up) but soon become friends against the beautiful vacation backdrop.
WHAT I LIKED
“Enchanted April” reminds me of what I might say to someone who asks me to give an opinion on a slow jazz group at a lounge bar. I really don’t get jazz, and I don’t particularly like the style. I can appreciate the talent and passion that goes into jazz, but it’s not a part of me. Similarly, I just didn’t get “Enchanted April.” It isn’t my cup of tea, but I can appreciate the acting, art and style that goes into the film.
With this said, the cast is the glue that holds the movie together. I suppose that the fact the film didn’t bore me into slumber is a glowing review in itself.
When the film was released sixteen years ago, it ran away with two Golden Globes for acting (Miranda Richardson for Best Actress in a Comedy and Joan Plowright for Best Supporting Actress). So, if you like this sort of “Masterpiece Theater” drama, trust the Hollywood Foreign Press Association more than me.
WHAT I DIDN’T LIKE
Aside from a pretty drab video transfer, which is quite disappointing for a Miramax “Award-Winning Collection” release, there’s really nothing about the film that I can point to that is inherently bad. What I didn’t like falls under my own preferences.
Sadly, I was seriously bored with this movie. It reminded me of the introspective but otherwise soft-hitting stories that my mother reads in her monthly book club. It’s a rich film, but not the kind of rich that I like.
The characters simply meander around their Italian villa, restricted by their own lives, but never reaching any sort of real freedom. When it comes down to the story itself, “Enchanted April” is nothing more than an exercise in restraint. And with no release, any restraint is inherently uninteresting to me.
I hate to fall into generalities, but this is exactly the kind of film you think of when you hear the words “stuffy” and “British” in the same sentence. It might be a masterpiece to some, but it’s just lost on me.
The DVD comes with a feature commentary with director Mike Newell and producer Ann Scott. I always appreciate it when DVD manufacturers drop a commentary track into the mix. Unfortunately, Newell and Scott come across as stuffy Brits and deliver a commentary that was as boring to me as the film itself.
WHO’S GOING TO LIKE THIS MOVIE
People who like stuffy British movies.