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I Capture the Castle

Based on Dodie Smith's popular 1948 novel, I Capture the Castle (2003) is a charming, offbeat, romantic fairy tale with surprising depth. In 1930's England, a depressed and seriously blocked writer named Mortmain (Bill Nighy) lives in a crumbling castle with his daughters Cassandra (Romola Garai) and Rose (Rose Byrne). Isolated and struggling for money, the sisters and their artistically minded, proto-pagan stepmother Topaz (Tara Fitzgerald) grumble about Dad's inability to feed the family while Rose plots a way out. "I'd marry a chimpanzee if he had money," she announces — and she means it, too. So when two rich American brothers — heirs to a neighboring estate — show up, Rose sets her cap for the older brother (Henry Thomas, or Elliot from E.T.) while irritating the living hell out of the younger (Marc Blucas, best known as Riley the Load from TV's Buffy the Vampire Slayer). But the course of true love (or gold-digging, for that matter) never did run smooth, and the younger Cassandra chronicles the events that play out in her journal while struggling through her own confused, newborn feelings of lust and love. Unlike the slam-bang, action-wracked movies that audiences have grown accustomed to, I Capture the Castle is a sweet, quiet film that makes its own pace, urging the viewer along with complex, eccentric characters and gentle surprises that avoid cliché. There's also breathtaking views of the English countryside and some dandy acting. All in all, it's a deeply romantic film that avoids stereotype or preciousness, something that's become all too rare. Columbia TriStar's DVD offers an exceptionally beautiful transfer of this gorgeous film, with richly saturated colors and amazing contrast. The disc presents the film in either anamorphic widescreen (2.35:1) or pan-and-scan (1.33:1). The Dolby Digital 5.1 audio (English with optional English subtitles) is good, but the admittedly lovely score sometimes obscures quieter bits of dialogue. This is only an occasional problem, but the music tracks do seem to be a tad overloud throughout. There's a commentary track featuring director Tim Fywell, writer Heidi Thomas, and producer David Parfitt, in which they discuss various aspects of the production from adapting the novel to shooting around the fickle English weather, a short interview segment with actress Garai, four deleted scenes and an alternate ending, the theatrical trailer and previews for other Columbia releases. Keep-case.
—Dawn Taylor

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