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Enchanted April – Movie Review

“To those who appreciate Wisteria and Sunshine…”

It is a drab and dreary London day when Lottie Wilkins reads this in the newspaper. Wisteria and sunshine? The stuff fairy-tales are made of. The rest of the ad reads:

“Small Medieval Italian Castle on the shores of the Mediterranean to be Let Furnished for the month of April.”

a disappointed Lottie, as played by Josie Lawrence

Outside the bus, the gray rain is pouring all over the dirty streets, and Lottie arrives at her ladies’ club still thinking about the wisteria and the Italian castle. Once at the club, Lottie Wilkins (who never liked her husband’s name; it sounds rather like a pug dog with a little tail) meets Rose Arbuthnot who happens to be reading the very same advertisement. Lottie, the repressed optimist, is struck with an idea. Why not rent the castle together and escape their miserable lives? Rose, whose husband thinks she looks like a disappointed Madonna, is more practical and thinks a far-off castle is not worth wasting one’s time thinking about. But Lottie holds fast with the belief that “if you wish for something hard enough, it happens.”

Lottie tries to convince Rose

Both Lottie and Rose have found themselves in disappointing marriages. Lottie to Mellersh – a man infatuated with food and good society, but who thinks buying flowers is an extravagance not to be indulged in. Rose to Frederick – a party-goer who flirts with younger women and makes his living writing books God wouldn’t like to read.

Alfred Molina playing Mellersh Wilkins

So when face-to-face with the miserable yet freeing thought that they have nothing to lose, Lottie and Rose decide to rent their dream castle by the sea for an entire month. To cut the costs, they have rented the castle with two other women, of equally lonely lives.

Rose Arbuthnot, as played by Miranda Richardson

Mrs. Fisher is a cranky old widow, set in her ways and her stance against loving or being loved. All she wants to do in Italy is sit in the shade and remember her childhood days meeting now-dead poets like Tennyson. She is a woman who lives in the past.

Mrs. Fisher, as played by Joan Plowright

Lady Caroline Dester is a disillusioned heiress who is used to being the center of attention and every man’s fascination. She is tired of her friends and their tiring conversations. In Italy, she just wants to sit and not talk and not be the center of everything.

Lady Caroline, as played by Polly Walker

These four lost women find themselves in a romantic castle of San Salvatore with nothing pressing to do and no men to worry their heads. They spend the long Mediterranean days lounging in the sun, roaming through the garden, and sitting by the sea. Soon the balm of the golden sunshine starts to thaw their hearts, bringing love back where they never thought to find it again.

San Salvatore, which is a real Italian castle called Castello Brown

Enchanted April is truly an enchanting movie. Thoughtful, beautiful, and hopeful, this film is well-worth watching. The characters are endearing, despite (or because of) their funny quirks, and the period costume of the 1920s is delightful. Starring a brilliant cast, Enchanted April won two Golden Globes for Best Actress and Best Supporting Actress. The only fault I found with the movie was the seemingly rushed ending in which the two disappointed wives all of sudden forgot how disappointed they really were. I can appreciate that they still loved their husbands, but I found their automatic forgiveness a little hard to swallow.

Rose soaking up the serenity of the sea

Enchanted April (1992) stars Miranda Richardson as Rose Arbuthnot, Josie Lawrence as Lottie Wilkins, Joan Plowright as Mrs. Fisher, Polly Walker as Caroline Dester, Alfred Molina as Mellersh Wilkins, and Jim Broadbent as Frederick Arbuthnot.

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