Enchanted April (1992, Mike Newell dir.):
The most interesting thing, for me, about Enchanted April is that nothing happens.
There are people at parties, people at home, people on vacation at an Italian villa … and nobody does anything. In fact, one of the film’s points seems to be a celebration of taking vacation – physically and mentally – and the more hectic party scenes from the beginning are actually replaced by scenes of people doing less than they ever thought possible.
I don’t mean that literally nothing happens – that would be a very boring movie! – but rather that the events in the film are very ordinary, non-climactic, with no melodrama; ordinary people are simply living their lives and thinking their thoughts. The boiler does blow up at one point, but it doesn’t even have anything to do with the story (except, perhaps, to remind Mellersh that sometimes things aren’t perfect and that is all right). People fall in love, fall back in love, come back to life – because for one blissful month, no one is expected to say anything, be anyone, or go anywhere. No one owes anybody else anything. No one is angry or sad, because no one is judged, and no one’s impatient, because nothing’s going on.
When the characters’ lives suddenly don’t have the drama and the frenzy and the chaos, they have the chance to think about who they are and what they want – something we all miss out on more and more as the world moves faster and faster.
Instead of watching the film and thinking, “What happens next?” I find myself wanting to go where they are and do (or not do) what they’re doing (or not doing). I find myself letting the world slip away from me just as it does from the characters, and life just doesn’t seem quite as urgent or as serious as it was before. When the characters are done with their vacation, I find that I’m relaxed and happy too.
Try Enchanted April – there aren’t any car chases, nobody dies. No one is naked. No one swears, blows up a building, or races against time to save someone from a homicidal maniac. And it’s one of the most refreshing stories out there.