Powerhouse performances and inviting scenery enable this languid made-for-cable film to soar above the literal-mindedness in Hugh Whitemore's adaptation of William Trevor's delicate novella.
English-born romance novelist Mrs. Emily Delehunty (Maggie Smith) boards a
train in Umbria. The passengers include a retired English general (Ronnie Barkley) and his adult daughter, a German student named Werner (Benno Furmann) and his sweetheart, and an American youngster, Aimee (Emmy Clarke), traveling with her parents. When a bomb goes off in their compartment, only Mrs. Delehunty, Werner, the General and Aimee survive the blast. Lonely and
compassionate, the slightly eccentric Mrs. Delehunty invites the others to her villa to recuperate and cooperate in the police investigation headed by Inspector Girotti (Giancarlo Giannini). With the help of her handyman, Quinty (Timothy Spall), Mrs. Delehunty provides a hospitable environment for healing and the survivors form an extended family. To repay their hostess' kindness, Werner enlists the General's help in creating a typical English garden for her. Though Mrs. Delehunty pretends to be pleased that the authorities have located Aimee's uncle, Tom Riversmith (Chris Cooper), in America, she's actually sorry to think the girl will soon be leaving. At the same time, Mrs. Delehunty experiences troubling dreams about Werner's past. Inspector Girotti's
suspicions are also directed at Werner, who is eventually forced to drive
away with two terrorist associates. When Tom Riverside arrives, Mrs. Delehunty is put off by the pragmatic professor's brusqueness, while he dislikes her harmless flirtatiousness. Sensing Tom's disinterest in parenting, she begs him to let her raise Aimee in Italy; if her powers of persuasion fail, Mrs. Delehunty will be left alone with her garden and her memories of a ready-made family.
Though Whitemore has trouble integrating the story's many flashbacks and the conflicted character of Werner remains a cipher, director Richard Loncraine elicits unforgettable performances from a cast whose assured depiction of emotional damage is truly heartbreaking.
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- Released: 2004
- Rating: NR
- Review: Powerhouse performances and inviting scenery enable this languid made-for-cable film to soar above the literal-mindedness in Hugh Whitemore's adaptation of William Trevor's delicate novella. English-born romance novelist Mrs. Emily Delehunty (Maggie Smi… (more)