Monday, August 20, 2012

Review: From Time to Time (2009)

Oh, Netflix, how good you are to us! I found this movie on Netflix, which I had heard of before. I told my mom about it and how it had Maggie Smith in it. I also recognized that Julian Fellowes, who created Downton Abbey, was the screenplay writer and director. My mom and I sat down to watch it one evening not knowing anything about it other than what Netflix said. Also, after watching the movie, I found out that it was a based on a book called The Chimneys of Green Knowe in a series of books called Green Knowe.

Poster/Box Art
Towards the end of WWII, Tolly, a young boy whose father is missing in action, is sent to stay at his grandmother's estate of Green Knowe. Tolly originally doesn't like his grandmother, Mrs. Oldknow, since she disapproved of his mother. When Mrs. Oldknow begins to tell Tolly the story of Maria Oldknow, an ancestor from the early Regency era who had her jewels stolen, Tolly begins to encounter the ghosts who lived at Green Knowe at that time.

The story shifts back and fourth from 1944 to 1805. In 1805, Captain Oldknow, Maria Oldknow's husband returning from sea, arrives with a little boy named Jacob who he rescued from slavery and brought with him to Green Knowe as companion for Susan, his blind daughter. Susan and Jacob become very close friends, much to the chagrin of Sefton, Captain Oldknow's eldest son, who mistreats Jacob and wants him out of the house.

There are plenty of period drama characters in From Time to Time. I'm going to try something new here and list out the characters in a table. Comment below how you like this setup.
Actor/ActressCharacterAlso Seen In
Axel EtelTollyCranford (Harry Gregson)
Maggie SmithMrs. OldknowDownton Abbey (Lady Violet Crawley), David Copperfield (1999) (Bessy Trotwood)
Pauline CollinsMrs. TweedleUpstairs, Downstairs (1971-73) (Sarah/Clemance), Bleak House (2005) (Mrs. Flite)
Timothy SpallBoggisThe King's Speech (Winston Churchill)
Dominic WestMr. CaxtonA Christmas Carol (1999) (Fred)
Douglas BoothSeftonGreat Expectations (2011) (Pip)
Hugh BonnevilleCaptain OldknowDownton Abbey (Robert Crawley), Lost in Austen (Mr. Bennet), Daniel Deronda (Mr. Grandcourt)
Allen LeechFred BoggisDownton Abbey (Thomas Branson)
Harriet WalterLady GreshamSense and Sensibility (1995) (Fanny Dashwood), Little Dorrit (2008) (Mrs. Gowan), The Young Victoria (Queen Adelaide)

Tolly exploring the grounds of Green Knowe
In From Time to Time, we see the story through the eyes of Tolly (short for Toseland). I liked Tolly; he was curious, adventurous, and a overall likable character. I loved how throughout the story the relationship between him and Mrs. Oldknow grows: it was very sweet and very well acted by both Axel Etel and Maggie Smith. Mrs. Oldknow is a sweet, old lady who regrets the harsh things that she wrote to Tolly's mother years ago; we find that she immediately cares for Tolly despite the fact that Tolly doesn't like her at the beginning. But as Mrs. Oldknow tells Tolly the story of Maria Oldknow and her jewels and about Susan and Jacob and when Tolly sees Susan's ghost and is transported to the 1800s and back, they grow closer as they inch nearer to finding Maria's jewels.

Captain and Maria Old Knowe
Carice van Houten played Maria Oldknow very well. She was selfish and conceited which fit her personality. You had to hate her for the first three quarters of the movie. Spoiler But when Maria is grateful to Jacob for saving Susan from the fire that took Maria's wing in Green Knowe, she improves, but then the movie was nearly done, so she was still a character you didn't really like all that much. End of Spoiler My only complaint is that the character and the actress is Dutch and yet she had an English accent (or at least I didn't detect a Dutch accent). This is a very small issue, though, and nevertheless her character was acted well.

Poor Captain Oldknow. You had to feel a little sorry for him. He had to go away on navy missions and leave his home up to Sefton. He and Maria were not well matched with each other, but he tried to make the best out of it. He was a very likable character (and played very well by Hugh Bonneville). He cared so much for Susan when Maria didn't. Jacob was more like a son to him than Sefton (more on him later). I'm only sorry that I didn't get to see more of him. Since he was away with the navy, he would come and go as a character. But the scenes between him and Susan and Jacob were very heartwarming.

This was probably one of the sweetest scenes in the movie:
after Susan can climb the tree, Captain Oldknow hugs Susan
and Jacob.
Susan and Jacob's friendship was very sweet. Jacob was rescued from slavery by Captain Oldknow and brought to England so he could be a friend for Susan and be her eyes. They became very close friends. The scene that I thought was sweet was when Jacob taught Susan to climb a tree, and Captain Oldknow was so happy that Susan could climb the tree. Spoiler Unfortunately, their story doesn't have the happy ending that I could wish. Both died when they were still children from illness. We do get to see their ghosts at the end with Tolly's father, who was killed in WWII. For an ending that could have been very, very sad (and it was still sad), there was a sweetness about it. End of Spoiler

Uggh! Sefton Oldknow...
I'm going to come out and say it: I hated Sefton almost instantly. When I saw Douglas Booth as Pip in Great Expectations, I wasn't all that fond of him in the first place. Now, I really dislike him. It seemed like in both of the roles he had, he was, for lack of a better term, a jerk. In that way, Sefton and Pip have something in common. While Sefton was born into money and Pip inherited money, both were at one point rich and were, well, jerks. Though Pip wasn't as cruel as Sefton. Sefton was a spoiled child from the start. As a "bit of fun" as he put it, he had Jacob climb up the chimney to fetch a phesant that was not there. When Jacob came back with a chicken that he had caught to make Sefton look like a fool, I was glad that Sefton was humiliated for what he did.

On a side note, Harriet Walter's character, Lady Gresham, was one of the few nice roles that she has had. I wish she got more screen time. She was so kind to Susan and Jacob. Spoiler When Maria was worried about other things during the fire, Lady Gresham was the one who tried to help Jacob find Susan. End of Spoiler

Mrs. Oldknow. Noticed the scenery is grayer in the 40s than
in the Regency era.
The story takes place at the estate of Green Knowe both in 1944-45 and 1805. The estate is large and has plenty of grounds that Tolly takes a walk on. There are mysterious parts of the house, such as the chimney, the underground bath tunnels, and the mysterious door that had been bricked over. The house itself is bigger in the 1805 story line because Maria Oldknow had a wing built onto the house Spoiler that was destroyed in a fire. End of Spoiler What I didn't understand was some of the lighting/coloring choices the film makers made. During the 1945 story line, the lighting cast a grey light on everything, but for the 1805 story it was vibrant and colorful. Could it have something to do with the WWII setting? Maybe, but I can't say for sure.

Sides: Jacob and Susan wearing Regency clothing
Front: Tolly sporting 1940s boy's wear.
There are two sets of costumes that we get to see in From Time to Time: 1940s fashions and Regency fashions. Naturally, I preferred the Regency fashions (surprise, surprise!). The 1940s fashions were very plain (due to the war most likely), but the Regency Fashions were very fancy and pretty. Maria Oldknow had (as you may have guessed) jewels and other fine costumes. Susan had on a white dress most of the movie. Jacob was dressed in poorer clothes while Sefton had fancy gentleman's outfits on since he was a gentleman.

But now for my issues with Sefton's appearance. Douglas Booth had the same problem here as he did in Great Expectations -- he looked too girly. I'm not sure if it's the way the make-up artists made him up, but they made his lips stand out too much and he looked, well, girly. But that was my only issue with the costumes/appearances of the cast.

Overall: 4/5
If you like a ghost story with not too many scary parts, a mystery, and a story about friendship, definitely check out this movie! The cast is very nice and they acted well. There are plenty of familiar faces from other period dramas for you to see. And the movie isn't too long, so you could sit down to watch it without taking up too much time.

From Time to Time is rated PG. Netflix said that it would be appropriate for 8 to 10 year olds, but I thought some scenes were a little intense for 8 to 10 year olds. Sefton can be cruel to Jacob, but nothing graphic. There is also a fire that is intense. Ghosts do pop up from time to time (hehe, get my pun?): the first time I was startled, but the ghosts aren't scary... except one of Mr. Caxton (okay, not quite scary, but startling), but he doesn't hurt anyone. There was also a fortune telling scene. Other than that, I can't think of anything horribly objectionable in this film.

From Time to Time is available on DVD and on Netflix Instant Streaming. It runs for 95 minutes and is rated PG.

1 comment:

  1. Lovely review! I really enjoyed this movie (as you could tell from reading my review on it)...actually, I'm already eager to watch it again! I did think it was interesting how the past was so much brighter and vibrant than the did help in distinguishing what was going on, but I wonder if there's not some kind of meaning behind that (I still haven't hit on it, though).

    Sefton made me so angry! It's very rare that I get so mad and disgusted by a villain, but I really did here! If only the Captain had been home more to keep him out of Caxton's control.

    Ahh, and I loved Hugh Bonneville's character in this one...I started bawling my eyes out in that scene where he sees his daughter playing in the yard and is just so happy.

    Oh, and there IS a book? I think I'll definitely have to look it up now. Thanks for sharing that tidbit!



Thank you for visiting Elegance of Fashion. If you wish to leave a comment, please do. I ask that you refrain from bad language and are polite and constructive. If you are posing under "Anonymous", if you could leave a name, that would be great! I reserve the right to delete any comments that I deem family unfriendly.

Thank you very much and please come again.