Enchanted April

Alfred Molina, Joan Plowright, Miranda Richardson

Directed by Mike Newell
Rolling Stone: star rating
5 0
Community: star rating
5 0 0
July 31, 1992

Don't be put off by the Stuffy Masterpiece Theater trappings of this Twenties period piece. The exquisitely wrought tale of four British women of different backgrounds who rent a villa in Portofino, Italy, is delivered with a witty feminist twist by director Mike Newell (Dance With a Stranger) and an outstanding cast.

Poor Rose Arbuthnot, luminously played by Miranda Richardson – the murderous protagonist of Newell's Dance – is too circumspect to confront her romance-novelist husband, Frederick (Jim Broadbent), about his cheating. But she does work up the courage to organize an April in Italy with her friend Lottie Wilkins (Josie Lawrence). Men, including Lottie's domineering husband, Mellersh (Alfred Molina), are not invited. Joining this low-key Thelma and Louise to share expenses are the glamorous Lady Caroline (Polly Walker), a social butterfly on leave from sex, and the sixtyish Mrs. Fisher (Joan Plowright), a widow whose acid tongue can't hide her loneliness.

The sensual bloom of the Italian countryside, gracefully evoked by cinematographer Rex Maidment, loosens inhibitions and creates a strong bond among the women. Peter Baines, who adapted Elizabeth Von Arnim's 1922 novel, has a knack for showing the strength women derive from each other. Though all the performances are beautifully realized, Walker is a stunning standout.

Eventually Frederick and Mellersh (done to a high-comic turn by Molina) intrude on this female Eden. Visiting, too, is George Briggs (Michael Kitchen), the owner of the villa, whose fervor for Rose instigates a romantic crisis. Enchanted April is modest but not insubstantial. It's a jewel of a movie that brims with the pleasures of the unexpected.

Movie Review Main Next


Community Guidelines »
loading comments

loading comments...


Sort by:
    Read More

    Movie Reviews

    More Reviews »
    Daily Newsletter

    Get the latest RS news in your inbox.

    Sign up to receive the Rolling Stone newsletter and special offers from RS and its
    marketing partners.


    We may use your e-mail address to send you the newsletter and offers that may interest you, on behalf of Rolling Stone and its partners. For more information please read our Privacy Policy.

    Song Stories

    “American Girl”

    Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers | 1976

    It turns out that a single with "American" in its title--recorded on the Fourth of July during the nation's Bicentennial, no less--can actually sell better in Britain. Coupled with the Heartbreakers' flair for Byrds jangle and Animals hooks, though, is Tom Petty's native-Florida drawl that keeps this classic grounded at home. Petty dispelled rumors that the song was about a suicidal student, explaining that the inspiration came from when he was 25 and used to salute the highway traffic outside his apartment window. "It sounded like the ocean to me," he recalled. "That was my ocean. My Malibu. Where I heard the waves crash, but it was just the cars going by."

    More Song Stories entries »