Friday, January 07, 2011

Enchanted April

Back in 1992 I saw a film that can only be described as beautiful.  I just saw it again tonight.  The story of four unalike, except that they are unhappy, English women who do not know each other yet decide to rent and share a seaside Italian castle for a month is, as improbable as it seems, almost completely uncontrived. 

I should be ashamed of myself if I ruined the movie for you by relating the story here but there are some things about the movie I love.  Perhaps the most lovely is how providence uses an intended evil to prevent another evil, and thereby sets straight the paths for several people.  

A smaller thing about the movie, but utterly delightful is the character of the oldest of the four women.  She delivers many overstuffed but perfectly fitting lines.  Once, when one of the younger women remarks on seeing a dead writer this old woman says, "I hope you're not in the habit of seeing dead people, no matter how distinguished. It's not in the best of taste."  On another occasion, when one of the women is talking about sleeping arrangements when her husband and another guest are going to arrive, she says, "In my day husbands were take very seriously. They were seen as the surest defense against sin."  I'm not sure that last line is a very healthy view for women to take of men, but it is, certainly, a reputation husbands should attempt to earn, don't you think?

Though a romance, this movie does not lose sight of the suffering in this world.  Other movies from about this same time, I have in mind Belle Epoque and Much Ado About Nothing, attempt to capture a similar feeling of rural Mediterranean happiness but fail. The former fails by glorifying evil, suggesting it has no undesireable consequenes.  The later film though cinimatically and musically beautiful, almost completey ignores the presence of evil in the world, suggesting it is overcome by a few songs and an arial shot of a vinyard.  The suffering of war, the lonliness of widowhood, the destructiveness of adultery, the undermining of marriage by insidious demands of carreer and class are all acknowledged in Enchanted April.  But the joy in the film is not overcome by these evils.   If you have an opportunity to see this very good film, I think you better had.   

1 comment:

kkollwitz said...

A charming and unexpected surprise of a movie.