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Movie Review: The Secret Garden, Appealing to the core!

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The Secret Garden: It is an interesting fantasy which revolves around a recently orphaned young girl who discovers a secret magical garden near her guardian uncle’s massive estate in England, besides new friends including a wild dog which she succeeds in taming and perhaps even the key to the redemption of her new family’s misery. In 1947, Mary Lennox is found abandoned, in her home in British India, her parents having died from cholera and she is forgotten in the turmoil of partition. Mary Lennox is sent to live with her uncle, Archibald Craven, on his remote country estate deep in the Yorkshire moors. While exploring, she discovers this hidden magical garden. Jyothi Venkatesh

The enchanting pull of the garden convinces Mary that it is magical with healing powers

The secret gardenInterestingly, it’s the eve of the India-Pakistan partition in 1947 and 10-year-old Mary Lennox (Dixie Egerickx) has just lost both her parents, though not her will to live or her aristocratic ways. She expects to be dressed up by the servants and also fed food of her choice and placed under the care of her uncle Archibald Craven (Colin Firth) at a lonely and secluded estate called the Misselthwaite Manor in Yorkshire.

The secret gardenTo her chagrin, the manor is just as cold as its occupants. While a grief-stricken widower Craven keeps to himself, the housekeeper Mrs Medlock (Julie Walters) is stern and uptight and warns Mary not to go ‘exploring or poking’ around the house, but curiosity gets the better of Mary, when she keeps hearing distant wails in the night. Soon, she discovers her cousin Colin (Edan Hayhurst) – Craven’s handicapped son, who is unwell for years. Mary also finds a secret garden, alongside the manor, where she befriends the wild dog and names it Jemima. The enchanting pull of the garden convinces Mary that it is magical with healing powers.

the maid servant’s brother Dickon (Wilson) and her cousin and Craven’s son Colin (Hayhurst) – The Secret Garden

The secret gardenCute Dixie is the life of the film, playing Mary with aplomb. Dixie delivers a promising performance and steals the scene right from her opening scene, where she is scrounging for food to fearlessly follow her gut and take on a very hostile family. Edan Hayhurst and Amir Wilson, who play Colin and Dickon respectively, impress the viewers in spite of the limitations imposed by their roles, though seasoned actors like Firth and Walters have hardly any scope to score with their craft.

The secret gardenEgerickx scores to a large extent as Mary, adventurous and to her credit she holds her own against the two older boys she befriends on the premises — the maid servant’s brother Dickon (Wilson) and her cousin and Craven’s son Colin (Hayhurst). Colin spends his days in bed, psyched to believe he is hunchbacked as well, and has no use of his legs.

On the whole, to sum up, I would say that this 1911 novel by Frances Hodgson Burnett, by the same name, about love and loss, childhood and growing up, finds yet another screen adaptation which is very impressive and worth watching in this sincere attempt but at the same time, Munden’s version also takes a circuitous route to the point of the story, with the secret garden and its significance not likely to be clear to people who haven’t had a chance at all to read the book.

Producers– David Hayman and Rosy Alison

Director-Marc Munden

Star Cast-Dixie Egerickx, Richard Hansell, Tommy Gene Surridge, JulieWaiters, Maeve Dermody,Colin Firth,

Genre– Fantasy

Rating-**1/2 (2.5 Stars)

Appealing to the core!