Screened as part of NZIFF 2003
17-year-old Cassandra, her insanely pretty older sister Rose and their swotty little brother are being brought up in a falling-down castle in Suffolk by their writer father and their flamboyantly Bohemian stepmother, a woman without a sensible bone in her body. As the extent of their father’s penury becomes uncomfortably plain, the sisters vow to marry rich. Enter the new owners of the estate: American, young, handsome, single, and entirely unprepared for the entrapment plans of two home-schooled English girls. ‘If only they could afford to send her to the cinema,’ Cassandra sighs after an astonishing display of availability from Rose, ‘then she’d have a better idea of how to behave.’ Few films would have taught her as poignantly as this one about the odds against choosing who will love you.
“Heidi Thomas’ screenplay perfectly conjures the eccentricities of an upbringing in picturesque, hand-to-mouth Bohemianism in the 1930s… A universally fine cast – the Aussie Rose Byrne luminous, exasperating and touching as the wilful sister, actually sounds more upper-class English than her colleagues – is crowned by a star performance from Romola Garai as the all-observing Cassandra, her detachment painfully crumbling… Garai is either a natural or a brilliant actor, or, I suspect, both. Resist the temptation to dismiss this as superior woman’s-weepie stuff. I Capture the Castle is a perfectly judged, enormously entertaining, and masterful first feature from director Tim Fywell.” — Martin Hoyle, Financial Times