Mary Lennox is born in India to wealthy British parents who never wanted her. When her parents suddenly die, she is sent back to England to live with her uncle. She meets her sickly cousin, and the two children find a wondrous secret garden lost in the grounds of Misselthwaite Manor.
In 1947, Mary (Dixie Egerickx) is newly orphaned in India, with her parents lost to illness. She’s collected by housekeeper Medlock (Julie Walters) and brought to a remote area of England to live on an estate owned by her widower uncle, Archibald (Colin Firth), a hunchbacked man who demands distance from the residents of the house. Getting used to her surroundings, helped along by housemaid Martha (Isis Davis), Mary spends her days exploring the grounds, spotting curious animals and encountering Dickon (Amir Wilson), Martha’s brother, who provides companionship for the spoiled girl.
Hidden away in a bedroom is Archibald’s son, Colin (Edan Hayhurst), a bedridden boy who grows uneasy with Mary’s attention, finding the newcomer pushing him to join her as they sample the world around them. Part of this journey involves the discovery of a secret garden once maintained by Colin’s late mother, with its beauty and history putting Mary into contact with her own mother in unexpected ways.
A longtime director of British television, Munden doesn’t stray far from small screen filmmaking for “The Secret Garden.” He tries to retain the intimacy of Mary’s journey by keeping close to the character, using tight shots and handheld cinematography to communicate the girl’s exposure to trauma, moving from the opulence of her family life to the isolation of survival. Mary is suddenly left without parents and a future, enduring an abrupt change of expectations as she’s collected by Medlock, an icy taskmaster, who’s in charge of bringing Mary to Archibald’s estate, which is located near foggy moorlands, adding an air of mystery to a confusing situation.
Munden follows the “Masterpiece” programming guidebook, offering sun-drenched interiors and cold authoritarian characters, tracking Mary’s experience as she offers her spoiled ways to anyone paying attention, including the kindly Martha, embarking on an inspection of her surroundings that Munden often captures with Malick-ian visual poetry.
Download The Secret Garden (2020)
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