ESP’s film critic Gavin Miller takes a look at the latest release on the small screen and steps out into The Secret Garden…
Another in a long line of blockbusters to forgo a cinematic release to go straight to the home – is this lavish release of Frances Hodgson Burnett’s famous novel.
Newcomer Dixie Egerickx stars as orphaned girl Mary Lennox, who is found abandoned in her British-colonised India home in 1947 – after her parents died of cholera.
She is then sent to live with her uncle, Oscar-winner Colin Firth’s Lord Archibald Craven, in his Yorkshire manor – and has a guardian in the form of Julie Walters’ strict housekeeper Mrs Medlock.
After refusing to go to boarding school, Mary is left to roam the estate’s gardens and woods during the day – and stumbles across a seemingly magical secret enclosure that houses a stray dog and her new friend, the kind-hearted Dickon (Amir Wilson).
But the real story to the family-friendly fantasy drama comes in the form of Lord Craven’s seemingly poorly bedridden son Colin (Edan Hayhurst) – who Mary also befriends and aims to unleash the magic on her young cousin.
And in the process may also help the grief-stricken Lord Craven – still bereft from the death of his wife Grace.
But despite some noteworthy performances from the youngsters involved – as Firth and Walters go through the motions – the movie never raises the level above passable family fare.
It’s a bit slow to get going, and the garden doesn’t really show its magic until a heart-warming – if formulaic – ending.
It does ironically seem to have a lot in common with current pandemic times with Mary restricted to the house and garden – and with all the Covid-19 doom and gloom just about unlocks a watchable distraction.
ESP Rating: 3/5
Cast: Dixie Egerickx, Colin Firth, Julie Walters, Edan Hayhurst, Amir Wilson, Iwis Davis & Maeve Dermody
Running Time: 1 Hr 42 Mins
Director: Marc Munden