Saturday, August 04, 2007

Friday Film Night – Enchanted April

This week our new guest columnist Annie West brings you a film that’s a firm favourite in her house, a tried and true feel-good movie –

Enchanted April

Enchanted April is one of my favourite movies. It’s a film even my husband will happily sit down and watch with me. If you love a happy ending this one is definitely for you.
I could tell you that the film won Golden Globe awards, and fill you in on the author – Elisabeth von Arnim, born in Australia, who married a European count, later built a chateau in Switzerland and entertained her friends there, including her lover, H.G.Wells and her cousin, Katharine Mansfield. But the film is even more interesting and so much fun!

This version of the book was filmed in 1991. It looks fantastic, with brilliant cinematography and a great cast. But what makes this movie so good is its warmth, its humour and the sheer joy of the story which is an affirmation of friendship and love.

Set in the 1920s, the story is about four very different women living in gloomy London. Lottie Wilkins (Josie Lawrence) sees a stranger Rose Arbuthnot (Miranda Richardson) reading an ad in a newspaper. A castle in northern Italy is for rent during April. The advertisement promises ‘wisteria and sunshine’. Both women are unhappily married, and succumb to the lure of the warm south. In order to spread the cost of the holiday they seek two other women to share the castle. Joan Plowright is pure gold as the starchy, disapproving Mrs Fisher whose Italian is a little out of date because she learnt it reading Dante. Polly Walker is absolutely delicious as Lady Caroline Dexter, world weary society glamour girl, fatigued by the demands of her constant social life.
Caroline: I want to just sit and not talk and not have to be the centre of attention all the time. You know what that's like don't you?

Rose: No.

The humour in this story slips from wry to sly and there’s definitely a touch of Lady Bracknell about Mrs Fisher. For instance:
Mrs. Fisher: In my day husbands and beds were very seldom mentioned in the same breath. Husbands were taken seriously, as the only true obstacle to sin.

The scene between the ever so prim and proper Edwardian lady, Mrs Fisher, and a soot blackened, naked-but-for-a-bathtowel Mr Wilkins (Alfred Molina), introducing themselves in the corridor after his hot water system has exploded, is one of my favourites.

Gradually San Salvatore weaves its spell over the women, who begin to see their lives and each other from new perspectives. Lottie and Rose decide to invite their husbands to join them: the miserly, business-obsessed Mellersh (Alfred Molina) and Frederick, the author of risqué books (Jim Broadbent). Even the castle’s owner, (Michael Kitchen) arrives to complicate matters.
Whether the magic is in the place, or the in the women themselves, that April in Italy changes all of them. They find love, hope and the promise of a brighter future. Enchanted April is a film to watch at any time. It leaves you smiling, and ready to take on the world.

Warm and fuzzy rating 10/10
(am I allowed to give a 10? Who cares, this film deserves it!)

Annie’s latest release, FOR THE SHEIKH’S PLEASURE, is available this month in the UK (Mills and Boon Modern) and North America (Harlequin Presents) so look out for it on the shelves.
You can read an excerpt on her website too.


  1. Hi Annie,

    I haven't seen this film. Must look out for it - it sounds like great fun.

    In the mood for some good movies.

  2. Annie,
    I think I saw this years ago. Or am I confusing it with A Room with A View? Similar themes I think.
    Probably worth renting again sometime soon :-)

  3. Thanks for pointing out a great sounding movie which I have not seen, Enchanted April.

  4. Jennie, if you're in the mood for a good movie, I really can recommend this one.

    Fiona, I like 'A Room with a View' too. Another great film, but a different period. Actually, I forgot to mention, if anyone is interested in women's fashion in the 1920s, this one is for you!


  5. Actually, can I give Annie's latest release For the Sheikh's Pleasure a shameless plug? It's absolutely brilliant! One of the best sheikh books I've ever read. Oh, Arik...

    Hmm, back to real life now...

    Annie, I saw this film at the cinema years ago and remember it very fondly. Partly because I have some of the music on a CD (Richard Rodney Bennett did a gorgeous score featuring an oboe). Every time I listen to it, I'm transported back to that wonderful golden April. What's lovely is it doesn't go for the obvious solutions. It says life is much richer than you sometimes think it is. Fantastic choice! Thank you for reminding me of a movie that I love!

    Anna x

  6. Ooh, Anna, I didn't know it was possible to get this music on CD. I'm going to have to look out for it. Or, of course, I could just sit and watch the film again!

    Robyn, I do hope you get a chance to watch this some time - it's definitely worth looking for.

    And Anna, thanks for the shameless plug. I'm not complaining!


  7. Wisteria and Sunshine... Sounds like my kind of movie (and vacation!) Thanks for the fantastic review, Annie, and Anna for the shameless plug, lol.

    Annie, was this movie inspiration for your costume to last year's Harlequin cocktail party?

    (Robyn Grady)

  8. Hi Robbie, you remember the 20s outfit I wore? Wasn't that a great night? I remember you looking utterly glam. Strangely though I don't recall this movie being inspiration for my costume. I couldn't hope to aspire to Polly Walker's fabulous flapper look. She's just beautiful in this film. I'd say mine was more of the generic 20s woman!


  9. Fab review, Annie. I haven't seen this film yet. I'll look out for it next time we have a pizza & movie night. I always have such a hard time choosing a flick under pressure!

    Vanessa :)

  10. Arrrgh! It's not available on DVD in the UK!! And I'd even convinced the dh that he would love it. Gutted...

  11. Liz - terrible news. I've got it here, if ever you're visiting Australia...

    Vanessa, I hope you manage to find this movie one pizza night. I know exactly what you mean about trying to find a good movie in a rush!


  12. Liz, I can't believe it's not available! Rats. Want me to send you a US version?

    It's a lovely film. Thanks for reminding me, Annie.

  13. Enchanted April: Oregon is dreary, cold and rainy nine months out of the year. The movie Enchanted April takes care of that for me and I'm in love with the Oboe piece played in the movie.

    I've been on the web trying to track down the composer of that piece, but to no avail. Can someone help? WD

  14. The oboe solo in Enchanted April is Erik Satie's Gymnopedie No. 1, which you can find on YouTube. I thought it would either be Delius (look for his La Coanga on YouTube and you'll like that too.)or Satie, both of whom wrote lovely works for solo oboe.

  15. I am the "anonymous" who delivered the above misinformation. The oboe solo in Enchanted April is not by Satie or Delius but ELGAR. It is of course his charming "Chanson de Matin" which is indeed easy to find on YouTube, although not I think as an oboe solo. Apologies.