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How many viewers of "I Capture the Castle" have a legal background and
understand the humor underlying the family name of the central characters,
"Mortmain?" Literally, "mortmain" means "Dead Hand" and in law it denotes
the attempt of a person to control his property postmortem. The humor here
is that the paterfamilias, James Mortmain (well played by Bill Nighy) is a
dried up author who hasn't penned a word since a successful novel of twelve
years past. He claims to be working on a new book, an assertion that may be
face-saving but is of dubious credibility. James has a past that the family
neither wishes to remember nor can face seeing its reappearance (can't
reveal what that is, can I?).
When still at the top of his game Mortmain and his then wife (who later dies, no foul play here) and his two little girls stumbled upon a rodent infested castle which he leased.
Jump quite a bit ahead to a now remarried Mortmain who lives in the still unrestored castle with his new, young, artist wife, Topaz (the beautiful, funny and accomplished Tara Fitzgerald) and his two teenage daughters, an appropriately mischievous little son and a sort of retainer in farm clothes, young Stephen.
The family is now, as the English say, "on their uppers."
Rose (Rose Byrne) is a gorgeous redhead solely obsessed with marrying out of the castle into the squirearchy or at least the solvent. Younger sister Cassandra (Ronola Garai) is engagingly wise, funny and bewildered at the changes that overtake her family when two young Americans succeed to the ownership of a manor that encompasses the castle (for which rent is long overdue). The sisters' close, interdependent relationship is warmly portrayed.
So Rose pursues one of the Americans, Cassandra deals with first love, spurning one suitor while secretly pining for another. An interweaved subplot has Topaz and then Cassandra desperately acting as James's muse, seeking to ignite what may well be the drenched sparks of a one-novel author.
As would be expected of a drama set in England in the 1930s before the hideousness of war returned are the inevitable class clashes, both economic and trans-Atlantic. What would a film like this be without a formal dining room scene replete with persiflage and the ominous threat of words said that can not be retracted?
"I Capture the Castle" has a strong cast but Cassandra is the centerpiece as she shows developing resolve and growth. Her appeal is irresistible. She's the younger sister many have fantasized but few have had. Ms. Garai is marvelously believable.
Yes, the film is in the Merchant/Ivory and Masterpiece Theatre vein but what's wrong with that? I liked most of the characters and rooted for calm but troubled Cassandra and frenetic but basically good Rose.
This is such a wholly captivating romantic study in human values with deep personal growth for basically all the main characters, that it's like a breath of fresh air in comparison to the sleaziness of what gets regularly stamped out by the Hollywood machines. On one level it's a `coming of age' story, in that it is presented from the point of view of an adolescent girl's search for meaning in life, but it is so much more than just that. The relationship issues are strong and poignant, never tawdry or sensational. People make mistakes for all too human reasons, but they also learn from them and grow. We are left with a sense of hope and inspiration, and not just a fairytale promise. The details of the story are not otherwise important as an introduction. It is wonderful to see!
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
This movie was not a bad movie -- as simply a movie, it is more than
watchable. But seeing it days after I finished the book, I was
disappointed. Perhaps this was as good an adaptation as any anyone
could have made, but I felt something lacking. A certain tone that the
book had and the movie didn't. I suppose that's the problem with
adapting books into films. They can never be quite the same substance.
17 year old Cassandra is witty and somewhat quirky, which in the book, comes across in her writing. The characters are sharp, original, and real. The movie attempted to capture them -- and it was a valiant attempt. But no picture is a substitute for Cassandra's commentaries, and as a result, some of the characters fell flat. James Mortmain, in particular, became merely a moody has-been writer when he was a comical, as well as violent man in the book. Don't get me wrong; I think Bill Nighy played the character well -- but he was never a source of comic relief in the film, whereas I found him hysterical in the book.
The character of younger brother Thomas was also transformed, from a mildly interesting young man into the utterly different nerdy little brother. This was no loss at all cinematic ally, for putting the Thomas we met in the book on screen may have made for one-too-many interesting characters. It just made me a bit sad.
The casting was good, though Marc Blucas was unemotional and forced as the charismatic Neil Cotton. The script surprised me, deviating from the book in story line very rarely. The dialogue and narration, though often different, fit with the essence, if you will, of the story. My main complaint has to do with the last scene, so beware...
*spoilers* The last lines of the book were, "I love you, I love you, I love you" left open for interpretation. The last lines of the movie were completely cliché and flat -- "I love, I have loved, I will love." That may be true, but it seemed an unnecessary and dulling change. That whole scene between Cassandra and Simon was like that. It almost seemed like an insult to the viewer's intelligence. Do they think we can't understand a little well placed subtlety? The dialogue was so blunt and out in the open, whereas the ambiguous quality of the dialogue in the book was one of the reasons I like it so much.
All in all, the movie is worth a watch if you have some spare time, but the book is worth a read even if you don't.
The rights to this film were rescued from Disney. I dread to think what
would have done with the book. Thank goodness they never tried
This book was one of my favourites, so I went to see the film in fear and trepidation. I needn't have worried. It is a beautiful film in its own right. Nothing was overstated. The emotions and nuances were captured perfectly by some wonderful performances, without the need to spell everything out in black and white.
Please see this film. I haven't enjoyed anything so much in ages.
I read Dodie Smith's 'I Capture The Castle' about three years ago and
found it a charming and engrossing read. I looked forward to the film
and have just watched on the BBC. I was pleasantly surprised with the
film because I thought that it would put people off the book but the
casting was very good for all of the characters.
The main problem was the fact that with the book, it is written as a diary with Cassandra's thoughts about everything but in the film, the viewer just got a brief comment about the several situations. Despite this, the film was sweet and the actress playing Cassandra is perfect. Not exactly how I imagined it but films hardly ever beat the books. I give it 7.5/10
I do not know why but periodic films always get me and leave me in awe. I
Capture the Castle does leave me in awe and also leaves me with the warm
feeling of satisfaction.
Cassandra Mortmain (brilliantly potrayed by Romola Garai -also known for her television works, most prominently Attachments-) moved from London to a countryside castle with her family when she was young. Reason being for the move is that her father (Bill Nighy); an author made famous by his first bestseller, wanted to stimulate his creative juices to write another novel. Unfortunately, it has been 12 years since he has written anything and this has affected the Mortmain family financially. Cassandra's older sister Rose, laments about this and wishes to escape from the deepening poverty they are enduring.
This changed however with the arrival of two american brothers; Simon (Henry Thomas) and Neil Cotton (Mark Blucas). Simon is the new landlord of the land that the Mortmains are renting. Their arrival has stimulated the emotions of curiosity, lust and love in those two girls. Rose, although initially wary of Simon is soon smitten by him and has agreed to marry Simon. From that point (for which I shall not spoil), we see Cassandra drawn into the centre of interwoven relationships. Some twists did occur although not very suprising, neither are they predictable.
Having seen Romola Garai's acting in Attachments, I find her underused in the television series. In Castle, she gives a colourful range of emotions. From what I can tell, the sadness or the joy is as real as it is. Another thing is that her narration (also written in the journal she writes in the movie) interspersed in most of the scenes, gives the audience an insight to her feelings and her deepest fears. I feel that there is more to come from this talented young actress and hopefully it will be good.
Another thing to note is the recreation of 1930's England. Brilliant, glamorous are in the dinner scenes, the girls trip to a London department store and the dance clubs. Quaint are the scenes in the countryside and also the gloominess from the weather. Humour? There are with Thomas Mortmain and Topaz Mortmain (delightfully played by Tara Fiztgerald; loved her 1930's 'hippie' bohemian act) supplying the punchlines and the laughter.
With all the side stories aside, I feel Castle was meant for audiences to see Cassandra's coming of age and how she deals with the plethora of emotions that hits her. I just left the cinema feeling warmly satisfied but with a tinge of sadness.
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.
Whenever there is a movie made from a book, there are bound to be
characters combined or eliminated, adaptations made to make it suitable in
scope -- but the overall tone should adhere, as best it can, to the source
this count, this movie fails miserably. The humor and wit of the book are
lacking in this dull melodrama
Romola Garai was well-cast as Cassandra and I'm certain she would have been better (lighter, more witty, less leaden) if she would have had better material. All others were pretty far off the mark, especially Tara Fitzgerald as Topaz and Marc Blucas as Neil. The latter is so wooden and his line readings so flat, I ducked my head in embarrassment for him whenever he opened his mouth to speak. Bill Nighy, so wonderful in other things, was also a grave miscast. None of the bluster and rather humorous pomposity of the character come through in his portrayal -- only neuroses, anger, and self-pity.
Perhaps this wouldn't be such a terrible movie to those unfamiliar with the book. However, if you loved the book I can't see how this film can be anything but
disappointing. The filmmakers who made "Cold Comfort Farm" should have done this one. It required that same light and loving touch. You won't find that here.
I was thrilled when I learned this book was being turned into a movie,
but was dismayed at the casting of the American brothers. Could they
have chosen two more boring actors? I doubt it. At least Henry Thomas
can act, but he's much, much too wimpy and lightweight for the romantic
Simon (I weep for the wasted opportunity that would have been Paul Rudd
in this role) and Marc Blucas is a big, big zero here. He's a terrible,
stiff, unconvincing actor (as he was on Buffy and in nearly everything
else he's ever been in) and impossible to swallow as the object of the
flighty Rose's affections.
Still, Romola Garai and Rose Byrne were lovely as Cassandra and Rose, even though the central romances in the story were subverted by the performances of Thomas and Blucas. I was initially appalled by the idea of Bill Nighy and especially Tara Fitzgerald as the girls' parents, but both were quite good. It's too bad one can't totally ignore the two male leads and just concentrate on the good actors, but as they're central to the story, it's impossible. As such, this is a lackluster film adaptation of a wonderful book.
I was enchanted by the cinematography, the actors and story. This is the way a movie should be made, with heart, humor and depth. A washed up and blocked writer for a father, an off the wall artistic step mother, a beautiful but pragmatic older sister and brainy little brother land in a picturesque but run down castle and scratch out a living while waiting for father's next great novel. Told from the point of view of a young girl coming of age, we see choices of survival, love and blunders of youth. From the very start of the movie I felt swept away by the story and acting. I wanted the story to go on........ 10 stars
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