Re-makes aren’t uncommon at the box office. Months (and months) ago now, after a two-year delay in releasing the film, this remake of The Secret Garden (2020) opened. Poised to be a different version, the film has a trio of newcomers anchored by a pair of veterans.
The Secret Garden (2020) Film Review
Left alone for days with no food or caretaker, Mary Lennox (Dixie Egerickx) is found in the ransacked family home in India by British soldiers. Having learned that her parents succumb to cholera, the army sends her back to England where she has an uncle. Spoiled and headstrong, Mary finds life at the dark and brooding Misselthwaite Manor a bit of a culture shock. What she does love is running about in the vast moors where India was always too hot to play out of doors.THIS ‘THE SECRET GARDEN’ (2020) IS FOR A WHOLE NEW GENERATION #BRITISHMOVIE #THESECRETGARDEN #ADAPTATION #MOVIES #FAMILYMOVIES #GOODMOVIES #COLINFIRTH Click To Tweet
Surprising to her, Mary finds she may have friends in Martha (Isis Davis), the maid assigned to care for her, and Dickon (Amir Wilson), Martha’s younger brother. She also encounters unusual wailing during the long nights and that her Uncle Craven (Colin Firth), and his once happy home, may have a secret or two.
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Like most films of interest, it did take me quite some time to finally watch this film. It’s been years since I’ve seen either of the two versions I grew up on, but even at that, I feel as though I remember them well enough. The Hallmark one in particular is more cemented considering I watched it most often. Also, fun trivia fact, Colin Firth plays a grown up character at the end of that 1987 adaptation. Fun, right?
This version seems to have mixed reactions which I think is fair. The cast is really all quite good. If you like A&E’s Pride & Prejudice, you’ll enjoy seeing Colin Firth in yet another Nanny McPhee sort of role; Julie Walters is stern and appropriately brisk as the housekeeper; and all of the newcomers are good. Dixie strikes the right balance for Mary, and it’s nice to see how she, Amir and Edan Hayhurst play off one another. They share good moments, and of course, it’s sweet to watch how Martha subtlety teaches Mary things, and the growth that shifts in both of them.
Most complaints seem to be about the CGI. I would agree to an extent. I think there is a great deal of CGI in the creation of the magical garden. Likewise, I also don’t think the garden has the “mystique” (from the human perspective) as prior films. The scope of the garden certainly has the same kind of wonder. But the curiosity from Mary’s point of view is lacking. That said, the garden is still really pretty to look at, and the storytelling touches that help to reinforce what it looks like if the imaginative Mary is sad is interesting too. Plus, I think this helps us understand Mary more.
Without recently seeing the prior versions, I’m not sure how I’d compare these. However, I think where this one excels, others flounder and vice versa. This Mary seems the most self-absorbed. Of course she softens and even in grief and lack of love, she’s able to extend this to those who are in desperate need of them. It shows the power of love, and in this case, change, can help us transform into someone better.
You can find The Secret Garden (2020) digitally on Amazon Video; and at publication, it’s with Hulu.
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Content: nothing really to note. There may be a “frightening” moment or two (there’s a fire, a girl left alone, etc); and the themes feel more grown up. But the film is only slapped with a PG rating so there’s nothing “bad,” just feels more grown up.