United Kingdom, 1992
PG (Nothing Objectionable)
Miranda Richardson, Josie Lawrence, Polly Walker, Joan Plowright, Alfred Molina, Michael Kitchen, Jim Broadbent
Peter Barnes from the novel by Elizabeth Von Arnim
Richard Rodney Bennett
Watching Enchanted April, the story of four dissimilar women in post-World War One England going on a holiday to a secluded castle in Italy, is the next best thing to taking a vacation. It casts a warm, relaxed spell that evokes feelings guaranteed to bolster sagging spirits.
Enchanted April has no hidden agenda. Its entire purpose seems to be to provide a measure of light entertainment. In that, it is an unqualified success. The few flaws are so minor that they aren't worth the space it would take to describe them. The film, directed expertly by British screen veteran Mike Newell, weaves a magical web that will enthrall audiences for the whole time that the theater is darkened.
The plot is relatively straightforward, functioning mainly as a device for character interaction and levity. The acting is superlative. Miranda Richardson can do more with her facial expressions than many actresses can do with both body and voice. Joan Plowright, Laurence Olivier's widow, is hilarioius as a pompous woman with all sorts of well-placed friends and associates. The rest of the cast, which includes Josie Lawrence, Polly Walker, Jim Broadbent, and Michael Kitchen, is equally good.
Enchanted April has moments of superior character insight, poignancy, and high comedy. It's unremittingly and unaplogetically optimistic from beginning to end, resolutely avoiding anything that might even hint at bleakness or despair. Similar in tone to the best and brightest British period piece romantic comedies (i.e., A Room with a View), Enchanted April is a standout in its genre. It's a superior "feel good" motion picture that doesn't manipulate, underestimate, or otherwise dupe its audience. Those looking for movie enchantment couldn't ask for a more pleasant film.