Polish director Agnieszka Holland, who scored an art-house hit in the US with EUROPA, EUROPA, deserved to find her way into the hearts of a larger audience with this reworking of Frances Hodgson Burnett's classic childrens' tale. Though it can get laborious, and produces the odd unintended
chuckle, THE SECRET GARDEN is charming and sometimes chillingly authentic.
At the center of the film is young Mary Lennox, winningly played by English actress Kate Maberly in her feature debut. Orphaned by an earthquake in India, Mary is sent to a forbidding Gothic house in the north of England to be looked after by her widower uncle, Lord Craven (John Lynch). Since he
wants nothing to do with her, she is effectively left in the charge of the dour, mean-spirited housekeeper, Mrs. Medlock (Maggie Smith). Things look rather grim until Mary discovers a garden that her aunt had tended and that Craven declared off-limits after her death, as well as a companion on
each side of the great English class divide: Colin (Heydon Prowse), Craven's invalid son; and Dickon (Andrew Knott), a young, Yorkshire Dr. Dolittle who walks and talks with the animals.
While there's nothing subtle about the story's metaphors of growth and rebirth, Holland avoids cliches as deftly as she does the hero/villain syndrome. The dark, oppressive characters have reasons for being that way, and Mary and Colin can be just as obnoxious as they are sympathetic.
Sign up and add shows to get the latest updates about your favorite shows - Start Now
- 1. How to Stream Your Favorite Scary Movies This Halloween
- 2. 3 Theories on How Tricia Helfer's Charlotte Is Returning for Lucifer Season 5
- 3. All the Netflix Christmas Movies and Specials Coming This Holiday Season
- 4. Grease Spin-Off Series Rydell High Coming to HBO Max
- 5. Queer Latinx TV Characters Helped Me See Myself When I Needed It Most
- 6. Los Espookys Doesn't Explain Latinx Culture to a White Audience, and It's Better for It
- 7. Jennifer Aniston Joins Instagram with the Friends Reunion Selfie We Needed