Secret Garden Cast: Dixie Agarix, Julie Walters, Colin Firth, Amir Wilson, Aidan Hayhurst
Secret Garden Director: Mark mundon
Secret Garden Rating: Two and a half stars
In 1911, Frances Hodgson Burnett’s novel, by the same name, about love and loss, childhood and growing up, the effort found another screen adaptation. There is magic here, but not in places where the film wants to see you. This heavy, brooding palace, its long and dark corridors, its flickering lights, its flamboyant wallpaper, its foggy moor or its thankless depths are not for people far-fetched – despite the atmosphere it creates. It is at the center of the story three children who rise above and around all this, and from whom the film continues to wander.
Mundon’s version secretly takes a long and winding path up to the point of the story, in which the secret garden and its significance are not clear to those who do not read the book.
Mary (Agarix) lives an abusive life full of servants and stories in colonial India with her wealthy parents. Her mother always seems ill, and over the course of two days, both parents die of cholera, with Mary being left alone in her home a few days later, in dirty clothes, lying idle. He is set to live with his uncle, a Mr. Archibald Craven, who lives a retired, isolated life beyond the Moors in Yorkshire, England. Mary still arrives there as an eccentric child, demanding that she need help to dress and that she will have nothing but favorite foods. It is not just the rude homeowner or maid, he soon befriends one who has established his authority on that count. This is the time she spends exploring the outdoors – and there are endless grounds to explore, though Mary surprisingly remains within the earshot of the house.
Craven (Forth) has only a brief meeting with Mary, to ask her not to get in his way. He is hunchbacked (ineffective), publicly stating his reluctance. However, the film also completely forgets about her, missing the chance to explore the conflict of two stubborn souls that promise the brief scene above.
Agarix is quite good as Mary, daring and fearless, no need to possess any of those qualities for her gender. She holds herself up against her two older boys, who are on the premises with the maid’s brother Dixon (Wilson) and her cousin, and Craven’s son Colin (Hayhurst). Colin spends his days in bed, convinced and believing that he has a hunch with him and that there is no use of his legs.
How Mary outsmarted Colin is the best part of The Secret Garden, breaking the barriers that surround her. The rest of the stuff, about their respective mothers (who were sisters), their special bond and what it means to their children, the garden and to them, a dog and a robin, a key and a gate, a pond and a tree, a tangle. Swimming in and out – suggesting a connection that is never very clear.