I Capture the Castle (2003)

R   |    |  Drama, Romance


I Capture the Castle (2003) Poster

A love story set in 1930s England that follows 17-year-old Cassandra Mortmain, and the fortunes of her eccentric family, struggling to survive in a decaying English castle.


6.9/10
6,735

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13 May 2003 | YouRebelScum
8
| Romola Garai illuminates the screen and story
This film is just begging for the tag 'Charmingly eccentric 30s romantic drama', complete as it is with Empire line dresses, stunning countryside locations and a whimsical, bickering family. However it's the performance of the divine Romola Garai, as the middle child Cassandra, that really makes this film work. Bereft of makeup and hair shorn to an unflattering bob, constantly scribbling in her diary, she is the embodiment of the intellectual teen; her capacity for articulating cascading emotions seeing her forming a passionate bond with the written word. But her ongoing contemplation of her madcap family is born of concern rather than self-obsession. In the absence of their mother, Cassandara has begun to shoulder some of the responsibility for her brother, precocious and emotionally catatonic father. Her burdens are increased rather than lessened with the arrival of a pair of rich Americans, and the romance that ensues. The way Garai indicates Charlotte's confused emotions - torn between different impulses that propel her towards being a daughter, a sister and a lover - is remarkable. While Garai occupies the center of the film, some of the other players shine in their roles, especially the always entertaining (and perpetually unclothed, yes, she's naked again here!) Tara Fitzgerald and the lovely Rose Byrne as Cassandra's elder sister Rose. The men fare less well. Bill Nighy is miscast as the reclusive writer father, and Henry Cavill as Casandara's would-be beau Stephen is leaden. The other failing of the film - which is really more of a backhanded compliment - is that I found myself wanting to know more about the family and see more of their infighting. The plot errs towards the romantic rather than the comic (OK, fair enough, that's what it sets out to do) but I found the end result a little disappointing. I haven't read Dodie Smith's novel so don't know whether the slightly muted tone is due to allegience to the original story. Overall though, "I capture the castle" is sweetly and undemandingly entertaining, and Romola Garai's vulnerability is intoxicating.

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