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I Capture The Castle (2003)

I love, I have loved, I will love

Directed by:

Tim Fywell

Rating: 6/10

Running Time: 111 minutes

UK Certificate: PG

Country: United Kingdom

'I Capture the Castle' is the big-screen adaptation of a hugely popular novel by Dodie Smith who, interestingly enough, also penned the original children's classic '101 Dalmations'. It's worth mentioning that, despite the title, at no point in the tale does anybody actually capture a castle – it's not that type of story, apparently.

It's set in 1930s England, where misery-guts author James Mortmain (Bill Nighy) and his family live in a rented-out castle even though he's got writer's block and they're struggling to pay the bills (might I suggest not living in a bloody castle as one of the first cost-cutting initiatives?).

17-year-old daughter Cassandra (Romola Garai) chronicles her thoughts in diary form along the way, which is handy when you're watching a film and want a narrator, while her big sis Rose (Rose Byrne) dreams of one day meeting a rich fool and robbing him for all he's worth. 'I'd marry a chimpanzee if he had money,' she says – so at least she's got standards. Meanwhile, wacky stepmother Topaz (Tara Fitzgerald) runs around the hills in the bare buff and talks a load of old nonsense about art.

The family's half-mental existence is interrupted big style when two strapping Yanks (Henry Thomas – or Elliott from 'ET' as he's better known - and Marc Blucas) arrive on the scene and start flashing the cash. So Rose's eyes fill up with £££s, coming-of-age Cassandra starts snogging everyone in sight, James buys a subscription to 'The Dandy', and mad mother Mortmain takes her clothes off (again).

There's some nice acting on display, particularly from Garai, who's still fresh from popping up in 'Nicholas Nickleby'. But the whole thing smacks of the kind of production normally broken up into 3 or 4 parts and shown on ITV on a Sunday night. There's regular use of humour, but none of it's particularly funny, and parts of the plot really don't ring true. For example, Henry Thomas' character Simon eventually proposes to Rose, even though the two of them aren't an item and there's been no previous suggestion that he loves her.”

It's Got: Some impressive scenery, which is worth seeing on the big screen.

It Needs: To be a touch less mushy. It does nothing for me.

Alternatives:

Shakespeare in Love, The Golden Bowl

Summary

Fans of the novel will no doubt want to see this out of pure curiosity, but it offers little different from the average period drama. Garai is one to look out for in the future, though.

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