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192: 101 REASONS TOLOVE THIS; Another hit for Dalmatians author I CAPTURE THE CASTLEHHHHI PG.

DODIE SMITH'S coming of age adventure has been enthralling readers of all ages for more than 50 years.

She is probably best known for 101 Dalmatians, but I Capture The Castle is as interesting although it deals with more adult themes.

And while Disney versions of her dog book have been hits for animated films and for live action, I Capture The Castle hasn't been so well used.

But Tim Fywell's film adaptation does not disappoint, blessed with a charming lead performance from newcomer Romola Garai as the precocious, wise-beyond-her-years heroine.

Seventeen-year-old Cassandra Mortmain (Garai) lives in a crumbling English castle with her novelist father James (BillNighy), nudist step-mother Topaz (Tara Fitz Gerald) and self-obsessed older sister Rose (Rose Byrne).

Life alters drastically when American brothers Simon (Marc Blucas) and Neil Cotton (Henry Thomas) inherit the estate on which the Mortmains live.

Both men fall under the spell of Rose, who agrees to marry Simon heir to Sir William Cotton's vast fortune.

However, she harbours a dark desire for Neil. I Capture The Castle unfolds from Cassandra's perspective, underscored with a voiceover reciting entries from her diary. Heidi Thomas's screenplay retainsall of Dodie Smith's witty prose, such as the heroine's scornful attitude towards romance: ``I know all about the facts of life ... and I don't think much of them.''

Performances are excellent, particularly the luminous Garai, who bristles with the self-determination and fiery spirit of a young womanwhoknowswhat she wants in life and is determined to succeed.

The rest of the cast is excellent, too, from Nighy's father, full of self-loathing because he can no longer provide for his family, to Byrne as the determined social climber.

The 113-minute running time passes all too quickly. A few months in the country with Cassandra just aren't long enough.

DVD Extras: Not a lot. Now available for rental.
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Title Annotation:Features
Publication:Daily Record (Glasgow, Scotland)
Date:Oct 31, 2003
Words:306
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