Caroline, Mrs. Fisher, Lottie, and Rose enjoying a repast at their beloved Mediterranean castle.
Who among us has not looked out the window above our work desk (that is, if we’re lucky enough to have a window) and dreamed of a lovely vacation at some wondrous spot on earth? Well, Enchanted April is about four women who have such dreams and also the determination to make them come true.
The story begins on a gray and rainy day in England, circa 1922. Lottie (Josie Lawrence) sees an advertisement for an April rental at a small medieval castle on the shores of the Mediterranean. Desperate to have some time away from her pretentious, social-climbing husband (a very funny Alfred Molina), Lottie convinces Rose (Miranda Richardson), another unhappy housewife, to travel with her and chip in on the expenses. Eventually, Lottie and Rose bring in two others: Mrs. Fisher (Joan Plowright), an testy matron who loves to talk about the famous writers she has personally known; and Lady Caroline (Polly Walker), a stunningly lovely party girl whose aloofness masks a secret sadness in her past.
All four of the women have unhappiness in their lives which they seek to address through their shared vacation. Each of them achieves a measure of healing during their time together.
Enchanted April features top-notch performances from a stellar cast of British actors. It is lovely to look at in terms of costuming and photography. The film was shot at Castello Brown in Portofino, Italy; and anyone who sees the sumptuous greenery and stunning seascapes in this movie will probably be running to their nearest travel agent as soon as the closing credits have finished rolling. Finally, Richard Rodney Bennett’s score, featuring cool and soothing flute and oboe themes, adds to the dreaminess and charm of the women’s little Italian paradise.
I should add that when I asked my husband to watch Enchanted April with me, he winced at what he perceived would be a “chic flick” experience. He ended up really liking this film. Truly, a good date night movie!
Some movie trivia: Enchanted April is an adaptation of Elizabeth von Arnim’s 1922 novel. The book spawned a 1925 stage play and a 1935 film version starring Ann Harding and Frank Morgan.
You can download a copy of the 1991 film by clicking onto the following link:
You can purchase a DVD copy by clicking onto the following link:
Pluses: Fine performances by a stellar cast of British actors. Alfred Molina and Jim Broadbent, who plays Rose’s philandering husband, are standouts. A feast for the eye in terms of costuming and locale.
Minus: None that I can think of. If you feel like watching an action film, run away! This is a gentle, leisurely dramedy about the inner lives of 1920’s English women.
Cast: Miranda Richardson, Josie Lawrence, Polly Walker, Joan Plowright, Alfred Molina, Michael Kitchen, Jim Broadbent.
Director: Mike Newell
Rating: PG (some mild language)
Length: 95 minutes