Sparks fly when spirited Elizabeth Bennet meets single, rich, and proud Mr. Darcy. But Mr. Darcy reluctantly finds himself falling in love with a woman beneath his class. Can each overcome their own pride and prejudice?
The film follows 17-year-old Cassandra Mortmain, and the fortunes of her eccentric family, struggling to survive in a decaying English castle. Her father is desperate to repeat the spectacular success of his first novel, but hasn't written a word for 12 years; her exquisite sister Rose can only rail against their fate, and their Bohemian step-mother Topaz is a nudist and no help at all. Salvation comes in the form of their American landlord Simon Cotton and his brother Neil. Although initially repelled by Simon, Rose is determined to make him fall in love with her and succeeds. A wedding is arranged and Cassandra is left on the sidelines as everyone around her is drawn into a maelstrom of interconnected relationships. But events spiral out of control, and before the summer ends she will experience frustrated desire, first love, and a broken heart. Written by
In the picturesque 1930's English countryside "I Capture the Castle" tells the story of an eccentric family in a decrepit, murky and leaky old castle that is now a shadow of its former majestic self, as is the father of the family. Their financial and romantic struggles are sewn together by an apt narrative by its lead character Cassandra (Romola Garai) who is the youngest daughter in the family.
The film is adapted from the same-titled cultish novel by Dodie Smith and it is glaringly apparent that the latter is interwoven with classic Jane Austen elements: class struggles, layered characters, English landscapes and one heck of a high-spirited and likable heroine, Lizze Bennet-style.
Yes, the film wholly belongs to Romolai Garai who portrays this heroine with remarkable sweetness, honesty and selflessness. Although there is a wealth of intrinsically 'good' characters to be found in the story, Cassandra is unmistakably the most likable one and indeed she propels the film with her warm, caring charisma. It is a damn shame the unspeakably talented Romola was not showered with awards for her unrivalled performance. Billy Nighy also chips in as the father of the family a failed writer who suffers from chronic writer's block and is moody and self-indulgent because of it. Yet he moves away from the Nighy-like acting of "charming prat" here and instead hands in a bruised, broken and tragic performance.
The conflict emerges with the blossoming of Rose (Rose Byrne), the oldest sister. She is the official family beauty and selfish on the surface, desperate to marry so she will get away from the miserable old leaky castle and escape into wealth. In a time of social climbers, Rose is a mountaineer. So naturally when one night two rich and eligible American bachelors (and brothers) set foot in the castle, she takes her chance. Cassandra forever takes a backseat to her older sister, but remains kind and happy for her nonetheless.
When Rose starts climbing the social latter, the financial constraints of the family are eased, but is she truly willing to marry only for money? 'I Capture the Castle' explores this question through the perspective of Cassandra as she writes her 147 pages of musings. It often offers delicate and classy humour in the juxtapositions of the seedy, drafty castle life with the glossy upper-class dinners at the American brothers' estates and indeed the whole film is peppered with light-hearted comedic situations and crafted with humorous, charming strokes. Yet it needs to be said that were it not for Romola Garai as the spirited tomboy Cassandra, the castle would have fallen apart literally and figuratively.
There is that unmistakable romantic angle to every element of the story never chick-flicky but always love-oriented that renders I Capture the Castle a pleasant Austen-diversion. Hard-boiled attention-deficit action-viewers, you have been warned.
8 out of 10
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