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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
An eccentric and well-born English family in the 1930's tries to cope with genteel poverty, while the two stunning teenage daughters of the family experiment with passion and romance.
Main thing you need to know: Romola Garai is not only lovely, she's an acting genius. Her fresh, innocent blond beauty rivets your attention, and she hits the right note in every scene -- curious, defiant, tender, lonely, confused, caring. She not only hits the right note, she often hits two or three right notes at once. Watch her animated facial expressions and you'll see she always gives you more than one emotion
The problem with this movie is that it tries to be too many things. One minute it's a sexy teen romance, like DIRTY DANCING (which also starred Romola Garai.) Then it's cerebral satire of long-forgotten intellectual types, like COLD COMFORT FARM. Then it's some kind of Masterpiece Theater type thing about newly rich Americans in England, and what fools they are for European elegance. Derivative themes and a thin plot with too many familiar stereotypes.
There are too many supporting characters, and aside from the luminous Romola Garai none of them are especially sympathetic. Marc Blucas was pretty good in JANE AUSTEN BOOK CLUB. Here he shows more muscle-power than talent. Henry Thomas is getting too old to be playing boyish and innocent. Bill Nighy as the eccentric dad has some authentic moments, but was a better patriarch in UNDERWORLD. ("Lycans, daughter. The lycans took my talent. Lucan and his kind . . spoiled my taste for f-f-f-fiction!")
There is one extremely interesting sub-plot about a local village lad the heroine thinks of as a friend, who worships her and is rejected. In an unexpected twist, a wealthy older woman seduces him and takes him to London, where he becomes a successful actor/model. The film handles this in a sensitive way, neither pitying the young man nor condemning him for giving in to his wealthy female protector. Unfortunately, this most interesting sub plot is only given a few minutes of screen time.
Summing up, then, this movie is something you must see only if you are a fan of the phenomenally talented Romola Garai. Other than that, it's really a hit or miss movie, and some parts are very thin.
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