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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
Manorbier Castle in Tenby, Wales, which was used for many of the shots of the Mortmain family's castle, had a moat that had not been used for many years. For the shots of Cassandra and Neil swimming in the moat, large amounts of clay were brought in to make the moat watertight. It was then filled from tankers of water brought from elsewhere, because the local water supply could not supply the large amount needed. See more »
The story is supposedly set in Suffolk, where you simply would not find the wild heather-covered moorland of the location shots on the Isle of Man. See more »
This film is just begging for the tag 'Charmingly eccentric 30s romantic drama', complete as it is with Empire line dresses, stunning countryside locations and a whimsical, bickering family. However it's the performance of the divine Romola Garai, as the middle child Cassandra, that really makes this film work. Bereft of makeup and hair shorn to an unflattering bob, constantly scribbling in her diary, she is the embodiment of the intellectual teen; her capacity for articulating cascading emotions seeing her forming a passionate bond with the written word. But her ongoing contemplation of her madcap family is born of concern rather than self-obsession. In the absence of their mother, Cassandara has begun to shoulder some of the responsibility for her brother, precocious and emotionally catatonic father. Her burdens are increased rather than lessened with the arrival of a pair of rich Americans, and the romance that ensues. The way Garai indicates Charlotte's confused emotions - torn between different impulses that propel her towards being a daughter, a sister and a lover - is remarkable. While Garai occupies the center of the film, some of the other players shine in their roles, especially the always entertaining (and perpetually unclothed, yes, she's naked again here!) Tara Fitzgerald and the lovely Rose Byrne as Cassandra's elder sister Rose. The men fare less well. Bill Nighy is miscast as the reclusive writer father, and Henry Cavill as Casandara's would-be beau Stephen is leaden. The other failing of the film - which is really more of a backhanded compliment - is that I found myself wanting to know more about the family and see more of their infighting. The plot errs towards the romantic rather than the comic (OK, fair enough, that's what it sets out to do) but I found the end result a little disappointing. I haven't read Dodie Smith's novel so don't know whether the slightly muted tone is due to allegience to the original story. Overall though, "I capture the castle" is sweetly and undemandingly entertaining, and Romola Garai's vulnerability is intoxicating.
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