Sunday, November 23, 2014

Page to Screen: Enchanted April

In 1991, director Mike Newell brought Elizabeth von Arnim's 1922 novel The Enchanted April to life.  With a solid cast, slow pace, and stunning scenery, it is an enchanting little film and one that is sure to help put a bit of calm into a stressful life.

The four main female characters are portrayed by Josie Lawrence (Mrs. Wilkins), Miranda Richardson (Mrs. Arbuthnot), Polly Walker (Lady Caroline Dester), and Joan Plowright (Mrs. Fisher).  The men of the novel are played by Alfred Molina (Mr. Wilkins), Jim Broadbent (Mr. Arbuthnot), and Michael Kitchen (Mr. Briggs).  I thought the entire cast was simply marvelous.  Of course, the performances themselves were solid but it was also nice to see the characters brought to life just as I imagined them when I was reading the book.

The film also did a fantastic job keeping the plot and pacing of the book intact.  When a book has as slow a pace as this one, it is easy for the film to try and add lots of extra drama, etc. to make up for it.  That doesn't happen here.  Instead, the film embraces the quietness and self-reflection of the novel and allows the story to simply be about the characters themselves.  Couple this with some spectacular scenery and you have a film that feels like a quiet vacation in and of itself.

If you like the book, this is a wonderful adaptation.  True to the story and characters, beautifully shot, and nicely paced, it is a little gem.  I recommend it for anyone who enjoyed (or is even interested in) the book.  

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