Picks and Pans Review: Enchanted April
Lawrence, a squashed cabbage of a woman married to a smug, dictatorial solicitor in post—World War I London, and Richardson, the pious wife of a philandering author, join forces to rent a castle in Italy. Surely the wisteria and sunshine touted in the newspaper ad will do them mountains of good. To save money, they recruit two strangers to join in their expedition: Plowright, who gives a characteristically terrific performance as a vinegary, literary-minded widow, and Walker (Patriot Games), a beautiful and bored heiress who, it turns out, has been having an indiscretion with Richardson's husband.
One whiff of wisteria, one dappling of sunshine, and they are changed women all. Lawrence is full of love; Richardson, once described as looking like "a disappointed madonna," is full of hope; Plowright is full of pep (she even throws her cane away and takes up watercolors); and Walker is full of resolve. With trepidation, Richardson and Lawrence invite their husbands to the castle. They come, they see, they are immediately conquered by their wives' newfound sexual magnetism.
Enchanted April, while it is woefully thin on plot and character motivation, is stuffed with hackneyed shots of foliage and flowers, mist over water and bathers doing back floats. There are occasional witticisms—"I wouldn't mind authors so much if they didn't write books"—but there aren't enough of them to satisfy even the modest goals of this movie. What was obviously intended to be gentle romantic comedy has instead turned out to be twittery tedium that mostly comes across as mediocre Masterpiece Theatre. (PG)