Tag Archives: 1920s

Beauty in the Movies: Enchanted April

So far this April has been cold and dreary, but with the hope of warmer weather to come I present you with this week’s Movie, Enchanted April.

Based on Elizabeth von Arnim’s novel The Enchanted April, this 1992 film is the story of two English women who, despite being married, are very much alone in their lives. When Lottie Wilkins (Josie Lawrence) discovers an ad in the paper for the rental of a wisteria covered castle in Italy, she sees a kindred spirit in Rose Arbuthnot (Miranda Richardson) and convinces her to rent out the castle with her for the month of April.

Realizing they can’t afford the rental alone, Rose and Lottie take out their own advertisement in the paper and soon find themselves splitting the vacation spot with the stunning and elegant Lady Caroline Dester (Polly Walker), and the stuffy, aged Mrs. Fisher (Joan Plowright).

All four women are trying to escape from something, for Lottie and Rose it’s their loveless marriages, for Caroline it’s the groping, fawning men of society, and for Mrs. Fisher it’s a life lived in the shadow of those long since dead. The minute the women arrive at the castle of San Salvatore a change begins to take effect on each of them. There is magic in the April air and it seems even cranky old Mrs. Fisher is not immune to the changes it brings.

Enchanted April is a quiet, slow, utterly gorgeous film. When I say “slow” I don’t mean boring, but languid and serene. The sunlit Italian coast is transformative for the characters, but also for the viewer as the shots linger on beautiful scenery that will make you wish for a sunny escape of your own.

What is so refreshing about the plot of Enchanted April is the lack of drama. So many films are filled with twists and catastrophes, but the surprise in this film is the lack of both. It’s not plot that drives this story but the inner monologues of the characters. We are brought directly into each woman’s thoughts with the exception of Lottie, who is the true voice of the whole story. She has a sense about the future of her friend’s lives and an understanding of the magical effect the castle has on them.

I find Lady Caroline an especially interesting character. She is a woman who has always been judged on her beauty alone, which leaves her incredibly frustrated and bored with the life she is trying to escape. At the same time when she is faced with a man who cannot appreciate her beauty, she finds herself distraught and is left questioning her true self.

I don’t have to mention how incredible the costumes, acting, and art direction in this film are, but I just can’t help myself because they’re all so well done. The costume designer, Sheena Napier received an Oscar nomination for her work, as did Joan Plowright for best actress in a supporting role. The movie was shot in the actual Italian castle where the author wrote the novel, which lends an air of authenticity to the story as well.


If you’re feeling blue, desperate for an escape, or just sick of the cold weather, Enchanted April is an excellent film to lift your spirits. It’s uplifting but not overly saccharine and romantic while still retaining a certain amount of surprise. It may be a simple story but it’s complex in emotion and so astonishingly beautiful that you may find yourself renewed just from watching it.

One Vintage vintage dress
2,100 GBP – net-a-porter.com

Alberta Ferretti wrap dress
$610 – anastasiaboutique.com

Vintage dress
520 GBP – mysugarland.co.uk

Green dress
520 GBP – mysugarland.co.uk

See by Chloe chiffon maxi dress
$520 – net-a-porter.com

See by Chloe empire dress
329 GBP – farfetch.com

T by Alexander Wang long dress
$175 – editnewyork.com

Embroidered blouse
atelier-mayer.com

Coat
fashion.1stdibs.com

Electric feather
$679 – lagarconne.com

Maxi skirt
360 GBP – farfetch.com

Lanvin satin flat
$435 – net-a-porter.com

Gurhan gold dangle earring
$1,100 – endless.com

Rosantica beaded jewelry
$900 – net-a-porter.com

Chain necklace
$190 – charmandchain.com

White necklace
$24 – unique-vintage.com

Sunglass
240 EUR – colette.fr

TopShop straw hat
$50 – topshop.com

Valentino Lace-trimmed cashmere-blend shawl
$1,395 – net-a-porter.com

Advertisements

4 Comments

Filed under Beauty in the movies

Beauty in the Movies: Chicago

This week’s Beauty in the Movies brings us to corrupt prohibition-era streets filled with showgirls and criminals in one of the best movie musicals to come along in a good while—Chicago.

It’s 1927 and vaudeville star Velma Kelly (Catherine Zeta-Jones, whose performance got her an academy award) has just been arrested for the murder of her sister and husband after finding them in bed together. Half of Chicago bears witness to her show stopping arrest, including bored housewife and aspiring performer Roxie Hart (Renee Zellwegger) and her lover Fred Casely. Fred has promised to get Roxie on stage, but after their affair fizzles he reveals he lied to get her in bed. Furious at Fred when he tells her she’s a “two-bit talent with skinny legs” and will never be a star, Roxie pulls her husband’s handgun from his underwear drawer and shoots Fred dead. Her sad-sack husband Amos (John C. Reilly) agrees to take the fall, but when the detective tells him the dead man’s identity he realizes he has been made a cuckold.

Roxie soon finds herself in the Cook County Jail residing in “murderers row” under the watch of the double-dealing matron, Mama Morton (Queen Latifah). Roxie goes to, the now infamous, Velma Kelly for advice, but Velma snubs her leaving Mama to offer assistance instead. Roxie learns that for $5,000 she can get hot-shot lawyer Billy Flynn (Richard Gere) to represent her, assuring her acquittal. With Flynn’s help Roxie becomes Chicago’s murdering sweetheart as the press eats up her sad story, especially female reporter Mary Sunshine (Christine Baranski). Roxie’s fame soon bumps Velma Kelly right out of the spotlight. Unfortunately the public is fickle, and when an heiress (Lucy Liu) commits a double murder, Roxie realizes she is easily replaced.

Chicago is a musical based on a play by Maurine Dallas Watkins. As a reporter for The Chicago Tribune, Watkins covered the cases of two murdering “jazz babies” in 1924, which would later form the basis for her play. While the original crime stories are a far cry from the glammed up musical, the idea remains the same. Justice isn’t often blind—if you have the right resources, a juicy story, and the love of the public, you can get away with murder. Celebrity criminals often get lighter sentences due to their status and wealth, but Chicago is about characters who are famous because of the crimes they commit—it’s hard to say which is more disturbing.

If you like musicals, Chicago is a must-see, the dancing is fantastic as is the jazz-era music and costumes. The numbers are staged to play-on traditional vaudevillian acts, from ventriloquism to tap dancing. The original musical was directed and choreographed by Bob Fosse and this film retains much of his style and spirit.

It annoys me when celebrities are cast in movie-musicals where they have to sing and dance, because often they fall way short. Musical theater is a whole different realm and it requires a certain energy. That being said, I was completely blown away with Catherine Zeta-Jones in this film, all the other actors do a good job as well, but in terms of ease and ability, she is the stand-out for me. Actually John C. Reilly is pretty great as the sympathetic schmo Amos too.

You’re not actually supposed to like any of these characters or think they’re good people. It’s implied that they’re morally questionable at best. Even sympathetic Amos is not completely likable because he lacks the self-respect to walk away from his cheating, lying, manipulative wife. It doesn’t matter that we know they’re bad—Velma Kelly, Roxie Hart, Billy Flynn, they get away with being bad because of their charm, and the audience is no more immune than the jury.

Chicago explores themes that are as relevant today as they were 85 years ago. With celebrities like Paris Hilton getting out of jail-time for “medical conditions” and Amanda Knox given the nickname “Foxy Knoxy” while on trial for murder, it seems we haven’t come very far. Reality TV is just another way we revel in the foolishness of others’ actions as we watch from the sidelines and make judgments—Chicago proves that this spectacle is nothing new. Things don’t change as much as we like to think; drama, crime, cruelty, sex, they’re just too juicy for the public to ignore, and it’s been that way for a long time.

Chicago

 


Chicago by justinez featuring a fringe necklace

Pleated silk dress
520 GBP – theoutnet.com
Ruched dresses »

Slip Dress
$79 – dearfieldbinder.com
Sheer dresses »

Winter Kate Jasmine Velvet Cardigan in Purple
$357 – shopthetrendboutique.com
Velvet cardigan »

Silk-blend culotte briefs
$88 – theoutnet.com
Panties thongs »

Marlene Tights
30 GBP – harveynichols.com
Wolford stockings »

CORSET Lace Hold Ups
34 EUR – pret-a-beaute.com
Lace hosiery »

Myla Body Silk suspender
$32 – journelle.com
Myla »

Miranda T-Strap
$89 – simplysoles.com
Frye shoes »

Closed-toe slip-ons
$385 – thecorner.com
Slip on shoes »

Thin Diamanté Almond Bracelet
157 GBP – julesb.co.uk
Stamped jewelry »

Nordstrom Wool Felt Cloche
$38 – nordstrom.com
Wool hats »

6 Comments

Filed under Beauty in the movies