Run time: 101 mins
In a year defined by surprise, the predictability of The Secret Garden – a new film adaptation of Frances Hodgson Burnett’s beloved 1911 novel – proves a breath of fresh air.
Here the Edwardian setting is swapped for the 1940s. Opening with a prologue in India, we meet 10-year-old Mary Lennox (Dixie Egerickx), who is found abandoned and newly orphaned following the death of her wealthy parents in the cholera epidemic. Sent away to live with her reclusive uncle Archibald Craven (Colin Firth) in the Yorkshire Moors, Mary must adapt to a new life in the Gothic mansion, clashing instantly with stern housekeeper Mrs. Medlock (Julie Walters). Warned not to poke about, the young adventurer does exactly that, and eventually uncovers the secret garden on the estate.
With the wizardry afforded by today’s technology, the garden now feels more fantastical than before, with twisting vines and plants that change colour with the wind. Just as before, though, the hidden place ignites the childrens’ imagination, helping them to deal with loneliness, loss and self-discovery. They learn what is cared for and tended to, can be rejuvenated. The Secret Garden is worth uncovering all over again. (Jack Whiting)