Newsnight Review discussed the film I Capture The Castle adapted from the book by Dodie Smith.
(Edited highlights of the panel's review taken from the teletext subtitles that are generated live for Newsnight Review.)
It has transferred to the screen very well. I liked the novel and I thought it would be tricky to get on to film. It did work. I think Ramola Garai manages to be naive without ever seeming dumb. That is brilliant for this. I think the tone of the book comes over quite well, the idea of having this romantic fantasy about adolescence that is shot through with wit and irony. I would have liked to see the humour of the book come through more strongly. There were only a few scenes where that came off. There was a great scene where Cassandra's sister, Rose flirts too much, because she has only learnt it out of novels. It's very, very funny. I thought that worked well on screen. Elsewhere they pulled back too much on the humour and made it more schmaltzy than it needed to be.
At first I thought, 'Oh Lord, this is another heritage movie.' I kept thinking I wish I was watching the Heart of Me which came out last week, which is a more profound movie set at the same time. Then I thought I love that Stanley Spencer quality and the voices and Romola Garai - wonderful. I got interested in her skin, you know, sometime she had the odd spot and then she didn't!
That happens in adolescence.
Absolutely. I thought how volatile one's skin is, at that dreadful time. I thought she's fascinating. Absolutely mercurial. Sometimes she looked beautiful and sometimes she looked rather plain, kept changing, chameleon quality and fantastic.
I thought there was disappointingly little about chess with a name called I Capture The Castle. I really wanted to see X-Men. I could see this was a film not meant for me. I was the only bloke in the cinema, an early afternoon showing today!! Like Tom, I was kind of seduced by the kind of quietness. It seemed a long film to me. But there is a quiet grandeur to it, the acting is great. I with will watch Bill Nighy in anything.
He is a bit parodic. A bit constricted.
He is good at doing constricted. He can do everything. Dodie Smith was 101 Dalmatians, I was expecting the kids to have spots!! There a subgenre going on here. What makes the film is the tension between the very glamorous, beautiful sister or sibling and the one who's plain looking and much more intelligent. And the tension between them you see it time and time again.
This, I thought, was remarkably good. Tim Fywell, people may have watched Cambridge Spies, which he also directed. This is his first film. There is an amazing dinner party scene where you get the daughter willing her father to be brilliant. It's all done by glances around the table. Beautifully directed.
The relationship between the child and the parent, the embarrassment about the bohemian parents and the pride in them. That was well done. The way that an adolescent can long for convention as well as rebellion. It's poignant.
It's rather home-made and sort of slack at times.