Directed by Mike Newell
This English movie takes us back in time, through many layers, and in a most enchanting way. At this stage in our history it shows the days when it was possible to take a grand voyage and have an extended stay in a rented castle in Italy. The period is post World War I. Male chauvinism still ruled, but the character played by Josie Lawrence, married to the character played by rigid lawyer Alfred Molina, decides she needs to take a trip – by herself. Or anyway with another woman in her social club played by Miranda Richardson. She too has a domineering husband played by Jim Broadbent. Their strategy is to rent an Italian castle they’ve spied in the newspaper, owned by an Englishman played by Michael Kitchen, He’s not keen to rent to women, but he’s met his match with these two. With their castle in hand they go looking for a couple of other women to share the rent. One is a beautiful young aristocrat played by Polly Walker, the other a dour older woman played by Dame Joan Plowright.
Once ensconced their enchanted castle in Italy, the very different personalities of the women lead to bickering, which mellows with the heat of April in Italy. But then Alfred Molina shows up with the owner. But rather than chaos, the enchantment of April seems to take over.
The movie was nominated for Academy Awards for: Best Actress for Joan Plowright; Best Writing/Based on Previously Published Material, Peter Barnes; and Best Costume Design Sheena Napier. It also won a Golden Globe Best Actress, Comedy or Musical for Miranda Richardson and nominated for Best Motion Picture, Comedy or Musical. The movie’s castle scenes were shot at the Castello Brown located on a hill overlooking Portofino. There was no road leading to the castle at the time so the film crew had to carry all the filming gear up and down the hill every day. This was the same castle where author Elizabeth von Armin wrote the novel “The Enchanted April” in 1920. This movie and an earlier version were based on the novel. Actress Dame Joan Plowright was the widow of Sir Lawrence Olivier. After wrapping the movie, Alfred Molina and Miranda Richardson reported supernatural experiences in the castle, and some cast members reported feeling unwell. Nonetheless, it is a classic movie for lifting one’s spirits, and was reportedly watched by President George H.W. Bush to cheer himself up when he lost the election in 1992.