Enchanted April DVD Review

Cover Art and Menus: 5/10
This is the “Award-Winning Collection” cover, and while it does look nice, and official, I have a problem with the inclusion of only one of the four females that feature in the movie.  to me, Enchanted April is a sort of ensemble piece, and here we only get a shot of Lady Caroline (played by the  beautiful Polly Walker).  Of course the shot is gorgeous, with the Italian countryside in the background, but I was really expecting something that included all four wonderful actresses together.

The menu was also a bit short on substance.  I basically is the same shot as the cover, with a bit more of an artsy, painting type effect.  The menu does look nice, but overall I was very underwhelmed.

Features: 2/10

  • Feature Commentary By Director Mike Newell & Producer Ann Scott – The only real “extra” here was a single commentary by the director and producer.  As far as commentaries go, this one is a full fledged dud in my opinion.  This was just a very monotonous dialogue with massive silent gaps in areas.  I again was underwhelmed, and for a movie with such a following and with such importance, the commentary was inexcusable.

The Movie: 6/10
Enchanted April was released in the theaters in 1992.  Initially picked up by Miramax, the television movie was released in the United States and did relatively well.  Since that time Enchanted April had, up to this point, not been released on DVD, which is kind of shocking for such a well received movie.  The movie garnered several Golden Globes  and nominations for Academy Awards for best adapted screenplay, best costumes, and best supporting actress (for Joan Plowright).

The movie itself is about two women who live in London in the 1920’s.  As the dark gloomy rain continuously falls about their lives, they take the opportunity to rent a castle in Italy for the month of April to escape London and their miserable lives.    The two are dissimilar in many ways.  Lotty Wilkins (Josey Lawrence) is married to Mellersh (Alfred Molina), a thrifty solicitor who is enraged when he discovers Lotty has arranged a vacation without him.  Lotty talks, or badgers Rose Arthbutnot (played brilliantly by Miranda Richardson) into joining her on the trip, and Rose is perfectly fine with leaving her husband in England while she gets away, as she is seemingly appalled at the fact that he makes his money by writing erotic stories under a pseudonym.

The pair decide that the sixty pounds is a bit steep for the two of them, and the end up finding two other female companions to joint them and share in the expense.  They end up inviting Mrs. Fisher (Joan Plowright) who is an older woman with high standards, and who expects those around her to share those same views.  Mrs. Fisher initially finds Lotty and Rose to be nothing short of troublesome, but later ends up warming up to the whole group as she finds that her affect is truly changed by the Italian experience.

The final castle-mate ends up being socialite Caroline Dester (Polly Walker) who decides that she needs to escape the constant attention that is thrown her way in the social circle that she keeps in Londen.  Caroline is a flapper who basically is forced to run from lecherous males during parties, and she longs for a vacation where she really has nothing to do but sit around taking in the Italian countryside.  The all female vacation is shown as a meandering, slow decompression that really unravels the defenses of all of teh women, to the point where the unlikely quartet become friends.

At one point, Lotty ends up inviting her husband to the estate, and Rose is suprised when her husband also drops by (when in actuality he had followed Lady Caroline, and is shocked to find out that the one Italian castle that he has chosen to drop in on happens to be where his wife is on vacation.

Overall Enchanted April is a slow, unfocused movie about the relationships created between these four women in the beautiful Italian countryside.  The story itself seems to take its time to develop, as one would expect a lazy Italian vacation to do.  The acting is fun to watch, and is the strength of the movie, and it is a lighthearted mix of drama and comedy, all mixed together to form a very pleasant, if not somewhat long-winder journey.

I enjoyed Enchanted April, but it did not live up to what I remembered.  This was one of those movies that I must have seen and revered for such a long time that when I finally saw it again, I was somewhat disappointed due to the fact that I had built it up so much in my mind.  While I did enjoy Enchanted April, it perhaps suffered a bit from age, probably like everything else.  Worth a watch if you have not seen it, the movie is one that many seem to revere, and hopefully after finally getting a DVD release, those people will not be as disappointed as I was by the release.

Audio & Video: 4/10
For such an anticipated DVD release, I would have expected a bit more polish.  Perhaps the movie was made with such a low budget that it really looked this way, but there were artifacts and grain, and I was shocked to see this released in this manner.  I understand that this is a movie from 1992, but I can’t give a pass for it simply based on the age of the movie.

The video was particularly bad in dark scenes, where there was very little detail discernible at all.  The colors seemed off, and the amount of grain in some shots was just blatantly noticeable; so much so that I often found myself noticing the grain and not following the movie.

The audio was better, but was again a bit muted and seemingly dull.   I guess I just expected more from such a prestigious movie like this.

Value: 4/10
Unless you are a huge fan of Enchanted April, I would not bother adding this DVD to your collection.  There are no real extras to speak of and the dvd itself is not top notch, as one would expect from a long awaited release such as this movie.  The story is interesting, if not a bit slow, and the acting is fairly fun, but overall I just don’t have a lot of positive things to say about Enchanted April.

Overall Score /10