REVIEW: I CAPTURE THE CASTLE

 

CAST

Romola Garai (Atonement)
Bill Nighy (Hot Fuzz)
Rose Byrne (Bad Neighbours)
Helena Little (Hidden City)
Tara Fitzgerald (Legend)
Henry Cavill (man of Steel)
Marc Blucas (Red State)
James Faulkner (X-Men: First Class)
Henry Thomas (ET)

The Mortmain family is genteel, poor, and eccentric. Cassandra’s father is a writer suffering from writer’s block who has not published anything since his first book, Jacob Wrestling (a reference to Jacob wrestling with the angel), an innovative and “difficult” novel that sold well and made his name, including in the United States. Ten years before the novel begins he took out a forty-year lease on a dilapidated but beautiful castle, hoping to find either inspiration or isolation there. Now his family is selling off the furniture to buy food.Image result for i capture the castle castThe widowed Mortmain’s second wife, Topaz, is a beautiful artist’s model who enjoys communing with nature, sometimes wearing nothing but hip boots. Rose, Mortmain’s elder daughter, is a classic English beauty pining away in the lonely castle, longing for a chance to meet eligible and preferably rich young men. She tells her sister Cassandra that she wants to live in a Jane Austen novel. Cassandra, the younger daughter and the first-person narrator of the novel, has literary ambitions and spends a lot of time developing her writing talent by “capturing” everything around her in her journal. Stephen, the handsome, loyal, live-in son of the Mortmain’s late maid, and Thomas, the youngest Mortmain child, round out the cast of household characters. Stephen, a “noble soul,” is in love with Cassandra, which she finds touching but a bit awkward. Thomas, a schoolboy, is, like Cassandra, considered “tolerably bright”.Image result for i capture the castle castThings begin to happen when the Cottons, a wealthy American family, inherit nearby Scoatney Hall and become the Mortmains’ new landlords. Cassandra and Rose soon become intrigued by the unmarried brothers Simon and Neil Cotton. Neil, who was raised in California by their English father, is a carefree young man who wants to become a rancher in the United States. Simon, who grew up in New England with his mother, is scholarly and serious, and loves the English countryside. Simon is the elder brother and therefore the heir, and is already much wealthier than Neil, so, although Rose is not attracted to him, she decides to marry him if she can, declaring that she would marry the Devil himself to escape poverty.Image result for i capture the castle castAt their first meeting the Cottons are amused and interested by the Mortmains. When they pay a call the very next day, however, the inexperienced Rose flirts openly with Simon and makes herself look ridiculous. Both brothers are repelled by this display and, as they walk away, Cassandra overhears them resolving to drop all acquaintance with the Mortmains. After an amusing episode involving a fur coat, however, all is forgiven and the two families become good friends. Rose decides that she really is taken with Simon, and Cassandra and Topaz scheme to get Simon to propose to her. Simon falls in love with Rose and proposes to her.Image result for i capture the castle castRose and Topaz go to London with Mrs Cotton to purchase Rose’s wedding trousseau. While everyone else is away Cassandra and Simon spend the evening together, which leads to their kissing. Cassandra becomes obsessed with Simon, but suffers feelings of guilt since he is Rose’s fiancé. Cassandra concludes that she must tactfully deflect Stephen’s offer of love, and encourage him in his emerging career as a model and a film actor; join forces with Thomas to help their father overcome his writer’s block by the drastic expedient of imprisoning him in a medieval tower; cope with her own increasing attraction to Simon; and record everything in her journal.Image result for i capture the castle castMeanwhile, unnoticed by anyone but Stephen, Rose and Neil have been falling in love. To conceal their budding romance they pretend to hate each other. When they eventually elope together Simon is left heartbroken, but Cassandra becomes hopeful. Before Simon leaves to go back to the United States he comes to see Cassandra. In spite of her feelings for him Cassandra deflects the conversation at a moment when she thinks he may be about to propose to her, in the belief that he is still in love with Rose. The book closes on an ambiguous note, with Cassandra reminding herself that Simon has promised to return and closing her journal for good by reasserting her love for him.Image result for i capture the castle castThis was a charming little film that I really liked. While not totally accurate to the book it comes very close and even if your a loyal fan of the book the movie may be a pleasant surprise.

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REVIEW: ONE DAY

CAST

Anne Hathaway (Interstellar)
Jim Sturgess (Cloud Atlas)
Tom Mison (Sleepy Hollow)
Jodie Whittaker (Venus)
Rafe Spall (Prometheus)
Patricia Clarkson (Shutter Island)
Ken Stott (The Hobbit)
Georgia King (The Duchess)
Romala Gaai (Atonement)
Toby Regbo (Reign)
Emilia Jones (Utopia)

The film opens with a short scene from the “current” day in 2006, which appears later on, before going back 18 years.

Dexter Mayhew (Jim Sturgess) and Emma Morley (Anne Hathaway) meet on 14 July 1988 after their graduation from the University of Edinburgh. They spend the night together but agree to be just friends, and plan to spend the following day together, the 15th, St. Swithun’s day. The film chronologically reconnects Dexter, Emma or both of them on that one day over the next 18 years after they go their separate ways.
One year later in 1989, Dexter helps Emma move into a flat in London where she plans to pursue a career as a writer. However, after little success, she ends up working as a waitress in a Mexican restaurant by 1990, and meets Ian (Rafe Spall), an aspiring comedian who is hired soon after. Dexter is travelling the world while drinking and having sex promiscuously with a succession of girlfriends, but they keep in contact via phonecalls and letters. He then visits Emma on 15 July 1991 and, to get her out of her rut, suggests they go away for the weekend. They flirt back and forth and it’s made clear that Emma may have deeper feelings for him, but since she knows that Dexter is not boyfriend material, nothing comes of it and two more years fly by. Dexter is now a wealthy and successful television presenter on a raucous late-night television show, where he meets Suki (Georgia King), who later becomes his new girlfriend.

Dexter visits his parents on 15 July 1994 after his mother (Patricia Clarkson) has been diagnosed with cancer and is terminally ill. He arrives at the family home still under the influence of drugs and alcohol from heavy partying the night before, which his father (Ken Stott) notices and is furious about, telling Dexter he will ban him from visiting again if he keeps it up. Also, his mother appears very unimpressed with the nature of his television show and reveals that she no longer believes he is a nice man. On the same day, Emma goes out on a date with Ian. Although there appears to be no romantic spark between them, she knows he means well and so they continue to date anyway.

By 1995, Emma is now a school teacher and has moved in with Ian. However, she grows more and more irritated with him because of his lack of ambition and failure to contribute to maintaining their household. Dexter is the presenter of another television show, which isn’t doing so well, making him “the most annoying man on telly”. On 15 July 1996, he and Emma meet for dinner. He turns up high on cocaine, leaves the table every thirty minutes, flirts with another woman down the hall, and insults Emma. She storms off and, out in the street, decides that they must break off their friendship due to them outgrowing each other. She tells him that although she loves him, she no longer likes him anymore.

Two years later, Dexter’s television career has gone into a steep decline because he is 32 years old and television executives prefer presenters in their early 20s. Meanwhile, Emma and Ian have split up and she becomes a published author of children’s books. By 1999, Dexter is in a long-term relationship with Sylvie (Romola Garai). On 15 July 2000, Emma’s former university roommate and Dexter’s old best friend get married, and both Emma and Dexter are invited to the wedding. There, Dexter receives a job offer from Calum, his old roommate who has since become a multimillionaire from owning a chain of organic food restaurants. Dexter and Emma leave the party to talk on the rooftop, where he tells her about Sylvie, who is now his fiancée, and is on his way to becoming a father. Emma tries to hide the fact that she is upset and they share a very brief but meaningful kiss.

By 2001, Dexter is a father but later learns that Sylvie is having an affair with Calum and they divorce. Two years pass and Emma has moved to Paris, where Dexter visits her on 15 July in the hope that they will get together again, this time for good. It is revealed that they had a one-night stand after his marriage to Sylvie broke down. However, Emma reveals that she has a new boyfriend (Sébastien Dupuis), a French musician who plays piano in a jazz band. Smitten with Emma but taken aback by the revelation that she has moved on, Dexter decides to leave. Suddenly, she has second thoughts and chases after him, exclaiming that she thought she had gotten rid of him. He promises to never hurt, lie to or cheat on her, and they share a passionate kiss and finally start a full relationship together.

Emma and Dexter become engaged in 2004 and eventually marry. Parlaying his restaurant experience into a new career, Dexter opens his own cafe in England, which proves to be very lucrative, and he and Emma start trying to have their own baby. However, they are unsuccessful and become frustrated with one another. On 15 July 2006 (the scene from the very beginning of the movie), Emma is hit by a truck while riding her bicycle out of a blind alley, and she dies. Dexter becomes inconsolable and self-destructive, and is particularly desolate each year on their day. Over the years, he gets support from his ex-wife, their daughter Jasmine, his widowed father, and even Ian, who also mourns Emma every year. Ian has since married and had children, but he visits Dexter and tells him that Emma was never the same with him as she was with Dexter, that she “lit up” whenever Dexter was around, and that “she made you decent and you made her so happy”.

On 15 July 2011, Dexter visits Arthur’s Seat in Scotland with Jasmine. The movie flashbacks to 1988 when they met and reveals they spent their day together at the same place. At the top, Dexter and Emma promise to always be best friends.
The juxtaposition of the present with the past near the end of this film makes the events even more potent than they would have been. Audience members who do not fall into the “half-wit” category can follow the story.

REVIEW: ATONEMENT

CAST

James McAvoy (X-Men: Apocalypse)
Keira Knightley (The Duchess)
Saoirse Ronan (The Lovely Bones)
Romola Garai (I Capture The Castle)
Vanessa Redgrave (Nip/Tuck)
Harriet Walter (Babel)
Patrick Kennedy (Mr. Holmes)
Brenda Blethyn (The Storyteller)
Juno Temple (Horns)
Benedict Cumberbatch (Star Trek Into Darkness)
Nonso Anozie (Cinderella)
Alfie Allen (Game of Thrones)

In 1935, Briony Tallis is a 13-year-old girl from a wealthy English family and has just finished writing a play. Briony attempts to stage the play with her three visiting cousins, twin boys and their teenage sister, Lola; however, they get bored and decide to go swimming. Briony stays behind and witnesses a significant moment of sexual tension between her older sister, Cecilia, and Robbie Turner, a servant’s son (a man that Briony has a childish infatuation with). Robbie returns home and writes several drafts of letters to Cecilia, including one that is explicitly sexual and erotically charged (specifically, it uses the word “massive pudenda”). Initially written for the sake of humour, he does not intend to send it and sets it aside. On his way to join the Tallis family for dinner, Robbie asks Briony to deliver his letter, only to later realise that he has mistakenly given her the prurient draft. Briony secretly reads the letter and is simultaneously disgusted and jealous. She tells Lola of its contents and they call Robbie a “sex maniac” while debating whether to turn him into the police. That afternoon, Lola and her younger brothers meet a friend of the Tallis family, a wealthy chocolate manufacturer named Paul Marshall. Though he is much older than her, he excites Lola by flirting with her and treating her like an adult.

That evening, Cecilia confronts Robbie about the letter which she has since read. They meet in the library where they make love and tenderly confess their love for one another. During the act, Briony watches through the partially open door and her confused emotions about Robbie become heightened. At dinner it is revealed that Lola’s twin brothers have run away; a search party is sent out and Briony goes off alone into the woods looking for them. She eventually stumbles upon a man running away from apparently raping Lola. Lola claims that she does not know the identity of her attacker, but then claims it was Robbie after Briony suggests that it must have been the “sex maniac” who attacked her. In a fit of pique, the still-hurt Briony tells everyone (including the police) that she saw Robbie commit the act. She shows Robbie’s shocking letter to her mother and the police. Everyone believes Briony’s story except for Cecilia and Robbie’s mother; Robbie is arrested and sent to prison.
Four years later, Robbie is released from prison on condition that he join the army. He is assigned to A Company, 1st Battalion, Royal Sussex Regiment and sent to France, where he is separated from his unit and attempts to return to them at Dunkirk on foot. He is then shown reuniting with Cecilia (who has not spoken with her family since the incident) in London six months earlier, where they renew their love before he is shipped off to the French front. Briony, now 18, has joined Cecilia’s old nursing corps at St. Thomas’s in London because she wants to be of some practical use to society after giving up an offer she received from Cambridge. Her attempts at contacting her sister go unanswered as Cecilia cannot forgive her for Robbie’s unjust imprisonment. Robbie, gravely ill and wounded, finally arrives at the beaches of Dunkirk where he waits to be evacuated.
Sometime later, Briony—at last fully understanding the consequences of her false accusation—visits the now-married Cecilia and Robbie to apologise to them directly. However, her apologies are rather weak and ineffectual; Cecilia coldly replies that she will never forgive her, while Robbie, in a rage that almost becomes physical, confronts Briony and demands that she immediately tell her family and the authorities the truth. Briony admits she knew all along that the real rapist was Paul Marshall, but that Lola cannot testify against him in a court of law because they have recently been married.
Decades later, an elderly Briony (now a published author) gives an interview about her latest book, a semi-autobiographical novel called “Atonement.” She reveals that she is dying of vascular dementia and states that this last book is one she has been working on for most of her adult life. Briony confesses that the book’s ending (in which she apologises to a married Cecilia and Robbie) is fictional: Cecilia and Robbie were never married and never saw each other again once he left for war. In reality, Robbie died at Dunkirk of septicemia while awaiting evacuation and Cecilia died a few months later as one of the flood victims in the Balham tube station bombing during The Blitz. Briony hopes that by reuniting them in fiction she can give them the happy ending they always deserved. The last scene of the movie shows a happy Cecilia and Robbie together once again as imagined by Briony.
It is a delightful film, well paced, with a beautiful background, strong emotions and remarquable actors. I really enjoyed it and highly recommend it.