Saturday, October 27, 2012

Return to Cranford (2009) Review

...Or, as this post might more appropriately be titled, "Railroads, Hoopskirts and Extreme Emotional Trauma (2009) Review."

I hardly know how to begin with a review of Return to Cranford.  The writing of it might be an easier task if I knew what my conclusions were-- as I do not, I'm rather at a loss what to say.  Did I hate it?  No, indeed! Did I love it?  Eh... no, I didn't.

I think, really, I must invoke both Henry Tilney's and Edmund Sparkler's disapproval and say that it was a very nice movie, but it had a great deal of nonsense about it.  It was Cranford... and yet it wasn't quite the Cranford of the first movie.  And since I didn't think much of the original novel trilogy (Dr. Harrison's Confessions, Cranford and My Lady Ludlow) I can't say that the book was better, but I can say that the first movie was better.  

Yet there was so much to love in RTC that I couldn't help enjoying it tremendously--yet I was so annoyed by certain plot twists that I was ready to throw an orange at someone.  Oh, dear, now my head's in a muddle.  I suppose the best way to proceed would be in my usual rambling fashion.  I shall endeavor to tell you what I liked and didn't like, and since I don't like to begin or end on a sour note, the Likes will come first, followed by the Dislikes, then more Likes in conclusion.  

...Shutting up.

(Warning: this post is written with the presupposition that all you readers have seen RTC.  If you have not, you may wish to skip this review, for it will be absolutely studded with spoilers.)

What I Liked About Return to Cranford

~Miss Matty, bless her heart, had not changed in the two or three years that passed between films.  Not much, anyhow. (I'll get to that.)  She's still as sweet and caring as ever, still unpretentious and down-to-earth.  I loved her relationship with Tilly and how she supported Peter in pretty much anything he wanted to do, and I applauded her when she put her foot down and refused to have that horrid feathered parroty creature in her house. Go, Miss Matty!

~All my favorite ladies made delightful reappearances.  Caroline Thompkinson is the only one who didn't show up, but she annoyed me exceedingly in the first movie and I was quite content to do without her.  Miss Pole is probably my favorite of the group, and she didn't disappoint.  "You will rend every garment you possess when I give you THIS piece of intelligence!"

~So I'll admit it up front, William Buxton was one of my favorite characters in this movie.  (Puddle darling, do please stop the hysterical giggling.  You wreak havoc on my poor nerves.)  I liked him far better than Dr. Harrison in the first movie (hey, nothing against Dr. Harrison, but I just like William better) and he made a nice addition to the original bunch.  Please tell me I'm not the only one who immediately thought of Willy Wonka when I first saw his hair... in fact, when he first appeared I thought him a nice fellow but quite unattractive.  I changed my mind, peoples, I changed my mind, and then I saw Henry V and repented of everything I'd ever thought in the beginning, but that is a story for another day.

~Peggy Bell is an absolute doll.  She was sweet and kind and caring, reminding me a little of Amy Dorrit in her familial situation (I came this close to slapping Mrs. Bell right through the screen on multiple occasions, and as for Edward--let's just say that I may or may not have squeaked, "Ding, dong, the wicked witch is dead!" at some time or another during the course of the film.  Ahem.) and her timidity.  However, she definitely had some backbone to her and I admired that (not that Amy Dorrit doesn't, but I think Peggy had more.)  I loved how she kept coming and coming to see William even when his horrid father wouldn't let her in, and how she took command when Edward got into trouble... et cetera and so forth.

William and Peggy's relationship, too, was sweetness itself.  I actually ended up liking them better than Dr. Harrison and Sophy--who, though cute, just weren't as interesting as William and Peggy.  Couples who have to go through some trouble together before they can have their happily ever after rarely fail to endear themselves to me.  Plus, they're just so perfect for each other.  *blissful sigh*

~Lady Glenmire was such a fun and welcome addition to the Cranford Gossip Club.  Mrs. Jamieson annoyed me far more than she did in the first movie, but I liked how Lady Glenmire was so down-to-earth.  She was one of the elements brought over from the original books, and I appreciated that-- I might prefer to movies to the books, but I'm always pleased when the screenwriters include things from the actual novels rather than just taking the names of the characters and running amok with them.  Cough, cough, Michael Landon.  COUGH COUGH.

~Miss Galindo was back!  She quickly became almost my favorite character in this film (can't decide who was my ultimate favorite) and I liked her even better than in the first one.  In the first one I had been worrying in the beginning that she was one of those corset-burning soapboxers, but she turned out to be an absolute duck and I like her immensely.  Especially when she bawled out Lord Septimus.  Yessssssssss.

~Harry Gregson quickly became one of my favorite characters (replacing Mr. Carter, in a way) this time around, though he frustrated me no end at times.  (Hmm, this is a good way to segue into What I Didn't Like About RTC.  Consider everything after these parentheses to be Dislikes until we get to the Happy Ending.  I'll let you know when that comes around.)

What I Did Not Like About Return to Cranford

~Harry seemed to have changed.  Okay, so obviously he'd grown up a bit in two years, and I hadn't expected him to be the same naive little boy who had gone off to school in the first movie, but I did not like how he suddenly had become indifferent to all Mr. Carter's wishes for him and so set on doing things his own way.  I realize that being at his horrible school made a difference and all that, but I do not like it when I spend half the movie joining with my sisters in shrieking at the screen, "NO HARRY STOP IT DON'T BE AN IDIOT!"

Especially in the running-away-and-jumping-on-top-of-the-train scene.  Can I get an amen? Not to mention making everyone think he was dead (and causing me to vow never to watch this horrible movie again) and then coming back to life with a sort of "LOL just kidding."

Um, not funny.  NOT.  FUNNY.

~Mary Smith was a huge disappointment.  I was quite happy to see her reappearance... at first.  The lack of Jack Marshland was quite a let-down (I still think they should have ended up together) but the fact that Mary suddenly became the corset-burning soapboxer was incredibly trying.  Hey, I have no problem whatsoever with her Articles of Writing ("is it a recipe?") but the way she went about it, with her "I don't need a man and a family to tie me down because I must Follow The Star Within Me And Be True To My Inner Freedom (Whatever That Means)" seemed quite inconsistent with her character.  Ugh.

~Though the shunning of Mrs. Jamieson after the advent of Lady Glenmire was a rather hilarious fiasco (good word, fiasco) it just didn't seem like something the Cranford ladies would do.  Now, Mrs. Jamieson's rudeness about not letting the other ladies socialize with her sister-in-law (or was she her cousin) wasn't too out of character (I never much cared for Mrs. Jamieson), but the idea of Miss Matty refusing to speak to anyone is pretty much laughable.  And Miss Pole staying home from a part just to sulk in silence?  Ridiculous.  I was sure up until the last minute that she'd cave.  But she didn't.  And I didn't like that.  The ladies of Cranford may get their danders up every so often, but they are good souls on the whole and don't hold grudges of that sort.  Sure, everything was sorted out in the end, but it still fidgeted me.

~Mr. Carter was dead.  GRRRRR.  Miss Deborah was dead.  DOUBLE GRRRRRRRR.

~Mr. Buxton was a piece of work.  "No, I will not let you marry my son, sweet and lovely young woman, because you are way far beneath him.  Get out of my sight instantly.  But wait, let me do everything in my power to help your deadbeat brother who just stole money from his employer. Please applaus me now for being such a reasonable human being."

~The ending, though deliciously happy, seemed a bit too perfect in one or two spots.  Jem and Tilly randomly popping out of the magician's wardrobe thing?  Really?

~The whole cow-on-the-line thing appeared to be stolen straight from the archives of Thomas the Tank Engine. 'Fess up, BBC.  Are you really THAT desperate for storylines???

~Lady Ludlow died. Sniffle.  Martha died.  Sob.  Edward Bell died.  Party time!

Okay, back to the good stuff.

What I Liked About the Ending of Return to Cranford

~The magician was HILARIOUS.  Here was another character taken from the book, and I was so pleased to see him.  The little scene with Miss Pole was one of the most hilarious in the whole movie.
"I suppose this is a variation on the classical trick with the hat being A and the dove being... B."
"Naoooow.  Eeet eess maaaaaaaaageec."

~Good old Captain Brown got a happy ending.  I defy you not to smile and perhaps even clap a little for him and Lady Glenmire.

~That ending scene was just cuteness.  Especially the waltzing.  I couldn't make up my mind as to whether the whole lady's-hands-on-the-man's-shoulder was something Peggy invented because William's left arm was out for repairs, or if that was actually the fashion back then.  Everyone else seemed to be dancing that way too, but the people of Cranford have a habit of doing little things like that so that no one will feel awkward.  Now THAT is typical Cranford-ness.  None of the petty shunning or staying home from parties.  These are the ladies who gave up their candles, remember.

~Miss Matty finally got her turban.  And it actually looked quite sweet.  Who would have imagined?

Final rating... undecided.  There were so many aspects to this movie, with good being A and bad being B (well, duh)... what did you think?


Anonymous said...

Ok, to start off with let me just say that I am a HUGE fan of Return to Cranford and I would like to applaud and thank you Miss Dashwood for creating so fitting and enjoyable a review.

Peggy and William were a charming and beautiful couple, and I just loved how Matty took Peggy under her wing and mothered her....she was in sore need of it.

Captain Brown and Lady Glenmire made a wonderful and rather unexpected pairing, and I also thoroughly enjoyed Michelle Dockery's brief stint as Erminia(her sibling-like relationship with William and friendship to Peggy were wonderful to watch), though I must say, for some reason Septimus was not entirely satisfactory.

Lastly, the magic show and waltz were, as you say, "just cuteness", and a perfectly delighful way to end things :)
God Bless
Eleanor Rose

Holly said...

I liked it, probably more than you do, but still not as much as Cranford...and I gotta say that I think Dr. Harrison and Sophie are much cuter than William and Peggy ;)
But Martha dying? Seriously, I have no idea what the director was thinking...what a waste of a good character!

Hayden said...

I admit when you put "eh" I was about to yell at you because I looooove this movie, but I have to admit I agreed with everything you liked and everything you didn't (and the Christmas blog header I just made is of William and peggy waltzing...) oh , except I liked when Jen and tilley came out of the wardrobe :)

Anonymous said...

Eeeep! Yay! I have been expectorating this post for months!

Heh. Ha. Hehehehehehehe... *Puddle commences into hysterical giggling and wreaks havoc on Chauvie's poor nerves* Me refraining from hysterical giggling when you post a picture of Tom Hiddleston is quite impossible. Surely you know that by now!

Yes! I loved William and Peggy's story much better than Dr. Harrison and Sophy's. Lady Glenmire is a wonderful favorite of mine, and I'm so glad she and Captain Brown got married! Captain Brown is really one of my favorite characters. "I am very much afraid it is a radish carved by my spouse into an ornamental form." :D I. LOVE. THAT. LINE.

Yes, Harry does annoy me a bit in Return to Cranford, but I still love his character.

YES. MARY'S STORY WAS SO DISAPPOINTING. My whole family heartily agrees on this one. What happened to Jack Marshland? And why did she have to turn into a corset-burning I-can't-get-married-because-then-I-couldn't-follow-my-true-dream kind of woman? Urrrrgggghhhh.

Okay, now for a point I must disagree with you on, Chauvie. (SHOCK. I KNOWWWWW!) I lurrrve the ending. Every single bit of it, especially Tilly popping out of the magician's box and Jem coming up the aisle saying, "We've come home, Miss Matty." Gah, I just love it! And I LOVE all the waltzing and watching all the different couples. Sure, the ending is a bit squeaky clean, but in a movie like Cranford, that's okay! The ending just makes me giggle profusely.

Oh. Wait. That might just be because of William's existence.

Molly said...

Oh, I loved this movie! And I agree with you on everything you said, except the part about Jem and Tilly coming out of the wardrobe. I thought that was so cute! :) But I agree one hundred percent about Harry being changed! All in all, I think I would give this movie an 8 out of 10.

Melody said...

Haha, I had no idea you didn't have as high an opinion of this one as the seemed to be quite, er, eager when you were writing an email about it to me a while back. ;D As for me, I can never decide which one I like more... they're just different and seem to have an equal amount of good and bad points.

William is INDUBITABLY better than Dr. Harrison. Dr. Harrison tended to annoy me. I really loved Sophy, though.

Haha, I was rejoicing when Edward died too... :P YAY, NO MORE OF HIM! (There are some characters in movies I'm just willing to die the whole time 'Is he going to die yet? When is he going to die??? DIE ALREADY!' I know, I'm horrid... although I'm thinking more of Daniel Deronda than this and if you saw that you'd proberly understand. :P) Although, I was rather annoyed with Peggy for helping Edward at all. I don't care if he was her brother. He's a JERK. Leave him to his comeuppance, that's what. (And don't you dare call me a merciless creature. :P)

Ha, well, Sophy and Dr. Harrison went through some trouble before they could have their happily ever after too, you know. :P It was just more annoying.
And I think Sophy and Dr. H are cuter in looks. >:D (Of course, this may just be owing to the Sophy part of them. Heehee.)

Haha, you can "cough cough" at Michael Landon Jr., too. He must have inherited that trait from his father, he must. :P

Oooh, I loved it when Miss Galindo told that Septimus dude what for. I love it when people I like in movies tell people I don't like off. It makes me feel like jumping up and down and clapping. Hahaha.

Haha, I agree about Harry... screaming and calling him an idiot, that is, and being different than the first movie.

It might have been cute for Mary to end up with Jack Marshland if not for the fact that HE DROVE ME CRAZY AND I FELT LIKE SOCKING HIM HALF THE TIME.

Um... well... I can't completely agree about Mary. It did seem like they might have been introducing a little bit of feminism there, BUT it was obvious she didn't really love the fellow she was engaged to, and that she had pretty much been giving in to peer pressure accepting him (Harris Bigg-Wither, anyone?) and so I'm glad she broke it off.
So there, Marilla. :P
And maybe she just figured out that she didn't HAVE to get married in order to survive. Haha. Or to get away from her mammar-in-law. Heh. And back then I think it WAS rather annoying that girls just like had to get married and if they didn't it was like the most terrible thing on earth. "Now despise me if you dare."

Although she did seem changed and it made me sad. She also looked a lot different.

Eh, and I didn't mind the Mrs. Jamieson thing so much, either. It seemed natural enough to me. Not, perhaps, continued for that long, but Miss Matty still seemed more opposed to the thing than everyone else, so... the thing that annoyed ME is that it was not Lady Glenmire's own fault that Mrs. Jamieson was acting that way. In fact, she did not even know. They should have welcomed Lady Glenmire like any newcomer and ignored Mrs. Jamieson, that's what. :D

Everyone must have their moments of pettiness, you know. :P

Okay, but I haven't seen it for a while. I'm just going from memory here.

"Please applaus me now for being such a reasonable human being"? o.O

Awww, I liked it when Jem and Tilly showed up. :P And you know, with so many other imperfections in the rest of the movie (such as people dying who aren't supposed to, haha), there should be some more room for cheesy perfectness at the end. I just tend to like happy more than depressing. :P

Haha, I see you now wonder the same thing I do about the waltzing. ;D

Anyway. Fun review!

Margaret Hale said...

You mean that Mary and Jack Marshland don't get married?!?!?!?! When I watched Cranford I took it for granted that they were going to end up together. I was really happy about it, too. :(
It's neat that they include some things from the book, like Lady Glennmire and the magician. Do Lady Glennmire and Captain Brown get married? That would be perfect!
Harry jumping on top of a train? Now I'm intrigued.
It's nice that Miss Matty finally gets her turban.

Alexandra said...

And here I am finally, after Blogger ate my first huuuuuge comment. "Curse you, Bloggerrrrrrrr!"


I totally agree on almost all points. :D Loved everyone...hated that Martha died...felt sooooo sad for Miss Galindo (I keep wanting to say Galinda) the whole time since she was allll alone...

I agree with Melody, though (shockers! ya, Melody! ;))...while it was a bit, mehhhh, come on, Mary, seriously...I had to agree with her somewhat. I guess after my own experience (which ya know...someday we must chat on the phone so you can get The Whole Story that doesn't go on my blog) I can empathise with her not wanting to marry a man she didn't really love just because she was pressured into it and just accepting that she didn't HAVE to marry to be happy. So I didn't totally hate it. Slightly annoyed, but I was sympathetic, too. ;)

And I loved Jem and Tilly. So THERE. :D

William was my first Hiddles role, and the boy was ADORABLE in it. The scene when Peggy comes to see him after he's hurt...SNIFFFFFFFFFFFFFF!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! We all agreed that Loki was a villain because he somehow lost Peggy and was brokenhearted about it. Please tell me our family isn't the only one to make random connections between different roles an actor plays. ;)

The magician is awesome...Tim Curry is one of my sister Belle's celebrity crushes (from Muppet Treasure Island) and she loved seeing him in this. :D

In short - LOVED this review. And just like you, this movie was good but eh. :D So yeah. That was our family's vote - we all love Cranford and we all agreed on the sequel.

Miss Dashwood said...

Eleanor Rose,
Thanks for stopping by! I agree, the way Miss Matty looked out for Peggy was so sweet. And yep, Septimus was awful. :D

I know! I loved Martha! Silly director.

Haha, thanks for not yelling. ;) Okay, so I think I didn't make it quite clear-- it wasn't that I disliked Jem and Tilly's reappearance. On the contrary, I was thrilled they'd come back. It was just that it seemed a little cliche and illogical to have Tilly pop out of the wardrobe. Too... Hallmark-ish. Haha.

Little Women quotes forever. :D
Oh, I ADORE the radish line! Someday when I get married I shall have to try carving radishes into ornamental fashions for my spouse. :P

Jem's "we've come home, Miss Matty" totally melts me EVERY time, it's just the wardrobe-popping that seemed a bit silly. And BAHAHAHAHAHAHA about William's existence. Too true, m'dear.

Oh, I know you thought the wardrobe bit was cute. The amount of loud sighing and awww-ing and sniffling that accompanied that part was what clued me in. :D

Miss Dashwood said...

Well, you have to remember, that was the First Impression. And I was in the Mental High that accompanies having just watched a good period drama. Heehee. This review was written in a calm state of mind, after a more objective second viewing. :P
Well, I admired Peggy for helping her jerk. Er, brother. Even though he didn't deserve it. But I shan't call you a merciless creatuhe. :D
Sophy's really pretty, but I actually like Peggy's looks a little better. And I don't think we even need to discuss whether William is better looking than Dr. H. COUGH.
Hahahahaha, I can just see you jumping and clapping when Miss Galindo told that Septimus dude what for. :D
Truuuuuuue, Mary was kinda being pushed into the engagement and I admire her for not just going ahead and marrying a man she didn't love. But my problem with it was that she seemed so opposed to getting married AT ALL because it would ruin her career. It just seemed like an unnecessary Bit of Feminism thrown randomly into the story. Heh.
Whoops, I meant "applaud me now," not "applaus me now." :P

Margaret Hale,
I had no idea you hadn't seen this!!!! Sorry for spoiling it for you. :( But yes, Lady Glenmire and Captain Brown do indeed get married, and Captain Brown does NOT die like he did in the book. YAY!
You should definitely watch this--we can lend it to you when you come over in a couple weeks.

Hahahaha, Miss Galinda... that made me giggle.
Like I said to Melody, it wasn't the not-marrying-a-guy-she-didn't-love-- it was that that whole plot twist didn't really seem necessary to the story. Plus I really wanted Mary and Jack to get together. ;D
I KNOW! Love the scene where Peggy comes to see him. And the gorse is in blossom. *enormous grin*
Oh, no way, your family is NOT the only one to make random character connections. :D
Tim Curry is in Muppet Treasure Island??? Must see that! I loved Muppet Christmas Carol, and Treasure Island is an amazing book, so the two together should be good.
Good but eh--I like that. Sequels tend to be that way in general, I think. Except for Anne2. Because that one is swellissimus.

Anonymous said...

I completely agree with your opinion of Edward. He was the most selfcentered, annoying, and ungrateful boy ever!!! I was sorely disapointed that Mary's character changed and extremly sad that Dr. Marshland didn't show up. Also I was kind of upset that Sophy and Dr.Harrison didn't appear. I really liked William and strongly objected that he was related to Mr.Buxton. That's all I have to say, I guess...

--Beatrix Potter

Elisabeth Grace Foley said...

I had mixed feelings about this too. On the positive side, I thought the Lady Glenmire/Captain Brown plotlne was very well done, worthy of the book and Cranford of old. And I also liked the William-and-Peggy storyline. (If you haven't read The Moorland Cottage, the novella that part was based on, you should! I liked it even better than the film version. In the book they actually met as children, and Mrs. Buxton plays a large part in the story.)

On the other hand, I thought the whole Lady Ludlow/Septimus/Harry storyline was just so-so. It wasn't Harry so much—I thought that having Septimus come back at all spoiled the poignance of that conversation in Cranford where Mr. Carter and Miss Galindo agree that Lady Ludlow knows he'll never come back.

But by far the worst mistake was killing off Martha. It was totally unnecessary—Jem could have left Cranford to look for work just as well with a wife as without one! And it highlighted another huge flaw—after all the fuss about doctors in Cranford, suddenly now we have none at all? And Peter was woefully miscast. He was so perfect in his brief original appearance that anybody else would be lacking. Aside from that, some of the comedy felt a little strained and over-goofy, like they were trying too hard to recapture the exquisite humor in the first one.

I did think that a strong point, as in the first one, was how they wove everything together—i.e. the selling of property to the railroad with the cottage where Harry's family lived and Edward's embezzlement; the train accident involving everybody's storylines, and so on. But overall, I prefer to just treat the original Cranford as complete and imagine my own happily-ever-afters! :)

Tony Laufeyson said...

I just cried watching this... I loved it! Indeed.

Anonymous said...

Don't think they were using aluminium tent poles during this time. Sanna

Annelise O'Connell said...

I have recently rewatched this, and have formed some opinions. The reason William and Peggy are more interesting than Dr Harrison and Sophy is that both have real problems to overcome before they can be married. Peggy has her Mrs Bennet-esque mother and Tip Dorrit-reeking brother, plus her own insecurities: William has learn how to work, be independent of his father, and be patient. With Sophy and Dr Harrison...well let's just say that I could spot their wedding from the second their sweet, gullible faces appeared on camera - book-accurate, I must say, but any difficulties to be overcome come from outsiders. If someone had obligingly shot Caroline Tomkinson, thereby appeasing the somewhat macabre rapacity this show has for character death, one obstacle would be gone. If Mrs Rose had been given a sense of humour (and calculated the age difference between herself and Dr Harrison) another would be rendered void. And if Jack Marshland had expended the mischief sloshing around inside him by ostentatiously lighting every candle he could lay his hands on, the third would be gone - and Dr Harrison would have been married midway through the first episode.