Enchanted April – DVD Review

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When Enchanted April was released in 1992, the quiet British film garnered some major award recognition, snagging three Academy Awards nominations and winning two of the three Golden Globes for which it was nominated. However the film is so beautiful and moves at such a slow pace, its tempting not to turn it off and doze lazily outdoors.

Lottie (Josie Lawrence, UKs Skins) and Rose (Miranda Richardson, Sleepy Hollow) are both members of the same womens club in post World War I England. Although they are only acquaintances, the two decide to share the rent for a house in Italy so they can take a holiday away from their overbearing husbands. They find their financial situation strained, so the rent is also shared by an older widow, Mrs. Fisher (Joan Plowright, The Spiderwick Chronicles) and an attractive young socialite, Caroline Dester (Polly Walker, HBOs Rome). The women enjoy the new company for their month-long holiday, as they relax and rejuvenate themselves in their breathtakingly beautiful surroundings.

The film has almost no plot to speak of until the final 30 minutes of the film when Lottie and Roses husbands both show up forcing them to face their marital issues. But like the rest of the film, the issues are quickly resolved and everyone goes back to enjoying the gorgeous house and the scenery. Acclaimed director Mike Newell (Donnie Brasco, Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire) does a superb job of capturing the Italian landscape so that it appears calm and inviting, so much so that just watching the film makes the viewer wish they were on holiday as well. The acting is spot on throughout the film, but not too much is asked of any of the four leading ladies. Instead the husbands played by Alfred Molina (Spider-Man 2) and Jim Broadbent (Moulin Rouge!) steal the show.

Enchanted April is based on the book of the same name by author Elizabeth von Arnim and has quite the following. It is rare when a harsh word is spoken about the film or the book but unfortunately, I dont think the film deserves as much praise as its received. The location is beautiful and makes you want to visit, but the rest of the film is painfully slow at times. This is what the film was trying to achieve though, so in that sense it does very well. Enchanted April will probably only be sought out by those who are already fans of either the book or the film, and I am neither. Like a Travel Channel special, Enchanted April will just make you want to turn off the TV and visit the featured location.

This movie is gorgeous. Director Mike Newell really knows how to showcase the surroundings. The film is presented in 1.85:1 aspect ratio. The sound is whisper soft though. I had to turn up my TV to almost full volume just to make out what they were saying.

The only extra is a Commentary with Director Mike Newell and Producer Ann Scott. Yeesh, and I thought the movie was boring…this will definitely put you to sleep.

Previews – The Proposal, Confessions of A Shopaholic, and a commercial advertising Blu-Ray.

Enchanted April has every component for a really great movie – it has a phenomenal cast, an established director, a glorious location. And yet it still manages to play out like a self-indulgent piece of fluff. I don’t understand the 94% rating on the Tomatometer. Maybe I’m just going to remain in the minority when I say that Enchanted April is not enchanting, but rather ordinary.

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Miramax presents Enchanted April. Directed by: Mike Newell. Starring: Joan Plowright, Miranda Richardson, Josie Lawrence, Alfred Molina, Jim Broadbent, Polly Walker. Written by: Peter Barnes. Running time: 95 minutes. Rating: PG. Released on DVD: May 5, 2009. Available at Amazon.com