Enchanted April (1991) Poster

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Few Films Have This Magic
sharlyfarley12 September 2003
"Magic" isn't too strong a word for the spell this film weaves. You find yourself relaxing, and seeing others in a more benevolent light... Any movie that has that civilizing an effect on viewers deserves serious attention. Seldom are we soaked in beauty like this. As if that weren't enough, it's funny. Performances are, without exception, extraordinary, but special mention must be made of the miraculous Miranda Richardson, and the superb Josie Walker - both open like roses.

Why ISN'T this film on DVD? It deserves to live forever.
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A real treat!
dclark196313 January 2001
Had a bad day? Dog bit the mailman? Car wouldn't start? People got on your nerves? Then refresh yourself with a delightful experience.

Two women decide to pool their resources in answer to an ad for a month's rental of a villa in Italy. Due to financial circumstances, two other women join them. Two have humdrum marital lives; one is an elderly woman who prefers to live in the past; the fourth is a wealthy and beautiful woman wholly jaded by life.

As the spell of the villa permeates their spirits, each grows in her own way and is uplifted in her outlook. This also changes the people in their lives who have visited them. As they leave you know the magic of the villa will remain with them...and you will find your outlook altered, for the better. A delightfully uplifting movie!
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a perfect gem of a film
suetr7 February 2001
This is a lovely, spirit-restoring movie. From the use of the actual villa that inspired Elizabeth Arngrim to write the novel in the 1920s to the inspired casting, every choice was perfectly right! The quiet joy of this film doesn't stale after repeated viewings. Josie Lawrence, Miranda Richardson, Polly Walker and Joan Plowright seem to have been born to play these parts! I would dearly love to see Enchanted April released on DVD in a widescreen format.
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Delicious Italian April breeze and trees
shu-fen10 April 2004
When life is not leading towards anywhere promising, stop, go somewhere else, relax, restore and restart.

The movie has been on air in town for a brief period, about ten days in a very small cinema at sleazy area. Though I missed the show, some ten years later I borrowed it from British Council again, now the library of BC has been closed down.

Magic Italy, who can resist its charm? Rational and cool-headed English people always find the southern Mediterranean countries a place to channel their suppressed feeling and emotion, and Italy of course is one of the choices.

At that conservative time, married housewives usually travelled overseas with their husbands. These four women who were suffering from various kinds of unhappiness find refuge to lick their crooked feathers at an Italian island. After reflecting on their lives, they are much refreshed. And further afield in London, during the absence of their wives, the husbands also have revelation about their life goals and go to the island to join their life partners. And happily, the cynical Caroline Dester found her love too.

The cinematography was lyrical and comforting, a landmark of many European movies. Solely by watching without thinking careful about the people or other things, the movie soothes one's weary soul and heart.

I tried to dig up Elizabeth von Arnim's other novels but they were not available easily now. Thank you Mike Newell, otherwise we'll never know her and her enchanting works.
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lsa301126 June 2004
I just adore this movie. I am on my 6th video and have great hopes they will eventually release it on DVD. It is a wonderful story about 4 women who stay at a villa in Italy and how their relationships change while there.

The cast is full of well known British actors and they are brilliant in their roles. I watch this movie when I feel the need to relax and unwind. It is very well directed and tends to follow the book pretty closely, which is unusual for a director. The scenery and the script are both delightful. I recommend this movie to anyone who wants to escape from reality, even if only for a short period of time. When ever I play this film, I can almost imagine being in Italy with the smell of flowers and feel the sunshine. Four stars****
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Invitation to the Voyage:
Galina20 October 2005
"My child, my sister, dream

How sweet all things would seem

Were we in that kind land to live together,

And there love slow and long,

There love and die among

Those scenes that image you, that sumptuous weather."

Charles Baudelaire

Based on the novel by Elizabeth Von Arnim, "Enachanted April" can be described in one sentence – it takes place in the early 1920s when four London women, four strangers decide to rent a castle in Italy for the month of April. It is the correct description but it will not prepare you for the fact that "Enchanted April" - an ultimate "feel good" movie is perfection of its genre. Lovely and sunny, tender and peaceful, kind and magical, it is like a ray of sun on your face during springtime when you want to close your eyes and smile and stop this moment of serene happiness and cherish it forever. This is the movie that actually affected my life. I watched it during the difficult times when I was lost, unhappy and very lonely, when I had to deal with the sad and tragic events and to come to terms with some unflattering truth about myself. It helped me to regain my optimism and hope that anything could be changed and anything is possible. I had promised to myself then that no matter what, I would pull myself out of misery and self-pity and I would appreciate every minute of life - with its joy and its sadness...I promised myself that I would go to Italy and later that year I did and I was not alone.

Charming, enchanting, and heartwarming, "Enchanted April" is one of the best movies ever made and my eternal love. This little film is a diamond of highest quality.
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An unusual adult movie.
s_mullen26 May 2004
I always tell people that "Enchanted April" is an adult movie with no cussing, no sex, and no violence. One might think of it as "the ultimate chick flick", but I bet there are one or two enlightened men out there who love it too. Don't invite the kids, though. This movie is very low-key.

Seeing "Enchanted April" is a very healing experience. The sound track and gorgeous scenery, along with the ladies' gentle manners, bring to mind the peace and beauty of a pre-Raphaelite painting.

Lest anyone think yours truly only watches one kind of movie, I will paraphrase a line I heard once on "Saturday Night Live" and say that my two favorite movies are "The Deer Hunter" and "Enchanted April".
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movies like they used to make them
mark worrell12 March 2005
If anyone is wondering why no one makes movies like they used to, with conversation, character and a simple theme of friendship struggling to evolve into something new, better and different, those folks need to take in this film and see top notch writing, directing, and acting that melds into a wonderful evening of observation on how things used to be in Italy and England. Other days, other times funneled into a terrific comedy of entertainment, made in 1992 with Alfred Molina, Joan Plowright, Polly Walker, Josie Lawrence, Jim Broadbent, Miranda Richardson, and Michael Kitchens in the major roles. Under the brush stroke direction of Mike Newell, these actors accomplish vividly memorable performances that are photographed with a sublimely subtle painter's eye. Reminiscent of the theatrical bedroom farce of the turn of the century, this film might be called a friendship farce that becomes a worthwhile experience in the growth of the romantic nature within each character, and the viewer, too. An artistic telegram on the importance of caring about those around us.
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I'm biased towards any movie that paints a luxuriant picture of Italy
Lawson13 August 2002
I'm biased towards any movie that paints a luxuriant picture of Italy - in my opinion the most romantic country in the world. Unfortunately the movie was rather short, unusually so for a period piece, and a little sparse on the cinematography aspect. However, the excellent story makes up for it. The four ladies embark on a much-needed relaxing vacation with problems on their minds. Over the course of the movie, they realize their problems and begin fixing them. They believe San Salvatore, the castle they stay in, has an enchanting effect on people. "It's a tub of love," says Lottie Wilkins. You can watch their gradual change from dissatisfied to exuberant as the Italian seaside works its magic on them.

All their problems and their solutions are plausible. The actresses were great. The background music seemed very appropriate for an romantic Italian locale. All in all, a 10/10 movie for me.
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wonderful * mild spoilers*
bdywrkr13 February 2006
Warning: Spoilers
For anyone who's judged others at first meeting, here is the perfect tutorial on depth of character. The grumpy old lady has a soft, thoughtful heart - and needs new friends. The flighty, unsure, 'ditsy' dame who makes inappropriate, uncomfortable comments - sees deep into your soul and has pure love for all. The cold, prim, proper, neglected wife has passion simmering that could boil over at any minute - given the right setting. The perfect beauty - rich, sweet, partying, pursued by throngs - wants peace, quiet, and love without possessiveness.

By taking the time to look beyond the surface, you will find treasures in everyday life, from the least expected sources. All it takes is patience and a touch of enchantment.
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homeartbylisa17 May 2005
I think this movie is absolutely beautiful. And I'm not referring only to the breathtaking scenery. It's about two unhappy English housewives who decide to rent an Italian castle to take a break from their not so happy home lives. In the end four women total rent the place together, all with different personalities and different reasons for being there. In this magically beautiful place they all find the peace they're longing for and interestingly that peace comes from inward reflections and resolutions, more so than without. I also find it wonderful because of the relationships that are developed out kindness and understanding. The acting is a joy to watch in itself. I especially love the characters of Lottie (Josie Lawrence) and Lady Caroline (Polly Walker).
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One of the Best !!!
thguru24 March 2005
This is one of the best movies. It is one of my favorites. A movie with good acting. The story is very sensitive and touching. Good camera work also.

The names of the actresses and actors are not at the top of the American Star list. However, they give equal or better performances than the top of the list.

It is such a pleasure to see a movie about true love, romance, friendship without having to endure watching someone having to kick-box their way to save the world.

If you don't like this movie then you have no heart or feelings. Then go watch a sports movie. There is no killing or horror here. See the movie. It is a must. TH
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A most wonderful film
beldel7 February 2004
One of my all time favourite films, ever. Just beautiful, full of human emotion, wit, humour, intelligence. The story grows, as does the lesson of life, just a wonderful film in so many ways.

The cast are also fantasic..... a great selection of the finest British talent around. I loved them all for every diverse element brought into the film.

Italy has to be one of the most romantic places to form a story such as this, - everything about this film works.

I love it :)
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Eternal Spring of Four Ladies
nycritic14 June 2006
Warning: Spoilers
This is the kind of movie England can do in its sleep, and that's meaning it as a compliment. Because of the success of very British comedies of manners situated at the end or beginning of the Twentieth Century, most notably adaptations of E. M. Forster novels, this very Merchant-Ivory like production was received in the light it brought when it was released in 1992. It was an exceptional year for actress Miranda Richardson, having appeared as the wife of Jeremy Irons who discovers her husband has been having an affair in the worst possible way in DAMAGE, and as the IRA terrorist who eventually dons a wig and gets a nasty comeuppance in THE CRYING GAME. Here, she plays a quiet, serene type of woman in Rose Arbuthnot, one who with Josie Lawrence who plays Lottie Wilkins, embarks on a trip that is filled with self-discovery. They are joined by an unlikely pair of ladies: one Caroline Dester, played by the enigmatic Polly Walker who resembles a very vamp Louise Brooks (and not just in the style of hair she wears), and Mrs. Fisher (Joan Plowright). This foursome will eventually merge together into becoming deep friends only because the story is so filled with spring and an overwhelming, dreamy sweetness it almost preordains it, but this is fine; it's the movie it wants to be. Alfred Molina and Jim Broadbent (then relatively new to American audiences) fill out the cast as the husbands of the two main characters, and all in all, Mike Newell makes with his movie a living thing of near-magical elements, full of quiet moments and wonder.
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A Movie For Those Who Appreciate Wisteria and Sunshine
AgedInWood11 December 2002
This movie works like a tonic to make one realize what is important. Even the act of watching it is soothing. The four central characters are all women of means living in relative comfort but their lives lack passion and significance. A holiday to Italy inspires them to relax and reassess their lives, something so many of us need and never do.

Lotty (Josie Lawrence) discovers an ad in the newspaper announcing an Italian castle available to let for the month of April. She implores her neighbor, Rose (Miranda Richardson), to invest in the trip so that together they might find happiness. Lawrence and Richardson beautifully portray compliant wives who are defined by their husbands, homes and obligations. Their body language and speech are so repressed at the beginning of the film. I found myself thinking that one or both of them will crack if they do not find peace.

To defray the cost of the trip, Lotty and Rose invite two other women to share in the villa rental, an elderly matron (Joan Plowright) and a titled socialite (Polly Walker). Interestingly, both Mrs. Fisher and Lady Caroline are very fragile, lonely women who have known great loss and mask their pain with cold exteriors. One is trapped by her past while the other is trapped by her beauty. Plowright shines as the brusque outer layers peel away and we discover her heart.

While each actress portrays a traditional female stereotype (Lawrence the daft, eager to please wife, Richardson the puritan, Plowright the hardened dowager, Walker the used up party girl), it does not detract and in fact, includes the viewer as we see something of them in us and vice versa.

For me, the essence of the film occurs when Lotty befriends Mrs. Fisher in a poignant scene. It characterizes the hope that all the women had when they embarked on their journeys. To love and be loved. To be happy with self. To be enchanted by life.
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A little piece of heaven
citsmitha10 June 2006
I first saw this movie back in the early '90's when it was first released. Room With a View was also newly out. Enchanted April had so much more to offer! I found it much more real and earthy, the characters more believable for being 'normal'. By the end of the film I felt the same as I did when I first saw the BBC production of Pride and Prejudice, I was yearning for the characters to find what they were looking for whether it was isolation, peace, liberty or love. You get a sense throughout that Italy is so far removed from everything they have ever known, that they are so decadent for taking a risk and leaving behind all that is humdrum and constricting. But in the heat of the spring in April, everyone's lives loosen and unravel (in line with the Victorian corsets) and are slowly rebuilt to everyone's satisfaction. What a little gem of a film! How come it isn't more well known?
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It's Time for a Vacation
BB-1531 May 1999
The message of Enchanted April is simple and in a way talking about the movie does not do it justice. This is a Masterpiece Theater type of film so some might find it slow and boring. A film with a slower pace is fine if there is something that captures my imagination. Enchanted April immediately hooked me because the film asks the question. Who hasn't felt the need to get away?

This a movie where every part works from script, directing, editing, photography, locations and acting. All of this gives the viewer the need to get out of town, go to a beautiful place and find that once you are there away from your worries, your life often times comes together. As I said it is so simple but trying to describe it is like talking about a painting by Van Gogh. The film simply works. It has charm. The characters are loving and human. And the atmosphere is beautiful and yes enchanting.

Seeing Enchanted April was not only restful. But afterwards I was in fact thinking of somehow, someway to get the time and the tickets to go to Italy and "find myself" in some beautiful place. If that sound great, check out this movie.
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My favorite movie; the perfect movie.
NativeTexan17 March 2001
My all-time favorite movie. Oscar-caliber work by everyone involved, both in front of and behind the camera. The screenplay is perfect, and works out the relationship between Lady Caroline and George Briggs in a completely satisfying way, unlike the novel. The care with which the other leading characters have been drawn is a tribute to screen writer Peter Barnes, and the intense visual beauty should have won Oscars for director Mike Newell and cinematographer Rex Maidment. It is Josie Lawrence's best work by far, and transformed my opinion of Joan Plowright. Having watched this movie at least 50 times, I can find no fault in it. The music, by famed composer Richard Rodney Bennet is a marvel.
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A delightful and enchanting film about love and growth
Robert Reynolds30 November 2000
The true measure of any fictional piece of work is whether or not the characters grow from their experiences and emerge from the experience altered in some significant way (note that this change need not be positive or beneficial) at the end.

By that measure, Enchanted April is a resounding success. As a film in general, it succeeds quite well-excellent ensemble cast, well-developed characters you come to care about, wonderful script and beautiful sets and locations. In short the film is, well, enchanting. Although all the performances are first-rate, three must be mentioned-Josie Lawrence, Jim Broadbent and Joan Plowright. It says something when Miranda Richardson does her usual fine work and yet is overshadowed by so many others in the cast. Most highly recommended, particularly if you are a romantic at heart. Further Deponent Saith Not.
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Beautiful things should be shared
lib-417 October 1998
This is what I call a growth movie. Every character is different and better at the end- and it's all because one woman knows that the place they have chosen is a "tub of love". Josie Lawrence, who is best known as a comedienne, really shines as the woman who brings about all these changes. Even the men in this film go from being self-centered to better men. The book stayed very true to the novel, which is a plus in my book, since I am a librarian. The scenery breath-taking and the message of love genuine.
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A Feel Good Movie, Pure and Simple
Chris Y26 April 2005
I first saw Enchanted April about five years ago. I loved it so much that my husband surprised me with a copy the following Christmas. It's about two women who decide to rent a castle in Italy for the month of April, leaving their humdrum lives behind them. They are very sad women at the outset of the film, and you can't help but root them on as they plan this get-away with two other women they invite along to share the expenses. This is perhaps the most feel good movie I have ever seen. It' pure and simple, with no car chases, no animosities and no deaths. It was made with care and in very good taste. You cannot help but smile all through it -- except when you're crying happy tears!
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Only One Flaw
Chimale102522 April 2004
This is an exquisite film about the search for some bliss in everyday life. The pacing, the camera work, the emotion, the haunting musical score and the pure charm of this picture make it a must see. It isn't easily appreciated by the immature or emotionally stunted. The only flaw I can see about this film is that it wasn't captured in a more technically perfect film format. It deserved Todd-AO, Technicolor and the very finest sound format available.(An intimate film can be made in seventy millimeter.) The gorgeous Italian villas effect on its inhabitants would have rendered even more lushly and the small lovely moments would be even more beautifully seen and heard. As it is, it still demands attention as a sweet moving small film. I can't stop myself from watching it every time it comes on satelite. The transformations of the characters from contained, tight and mistrustful is always a joy to watch and I really should recommend it more often.

The casting is perfect, the mood is perfect, the acting is above reproach. It is a film about middle age and the choices people make.It is deep and thoughtful without beating the viewer up with heavy handedness. Watch it in one sitting and let it have its effect on you. If you don't get it, perhaps you haven't lived enough, or something else is wrong with you.
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A great Chick Flick for that crummy winter day!
acheapmom8 March 2009
Warning: Spoilers
From rainy, dreary late winter England of early 1920s...

---where there is still sadness and many young widows and disabled vets from the great slaughter of men and killer of their womens' dreams--- known now as World War I...

Four women share this lovely small sunny Italian castle on a hill; one a young widow who is drowning her sorrow in frantic partying, two women who will rediscover their own husbands, and a fourth woman who is tired of her famous dead friends...

...These four women will come together with two husbands and a former soldier - almost blind - to get a spiritual "makeover" for one great April vacation in early 1920's Italy.

NOTE to would-be filmmakers. Study this film for how mood and beauty can tell a story. (Probably not a film to please many men...)

NOTE: Stock up on coffee & hot chocolate and invite the girls over on some dreary late winter day...Spring is coming...Enchanted April promises you!
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