Science fiction and fantasy                                            

The Secret Of Moonacre

directed by Gabor Csupo

The Secret of 
Moonacre poster  
When George Merryweather dies, he leaves his daughter Maria (Dakota Blue Richards) with nothing but an old book to her name. The Ancient Chronicles of Moonacre Valley is a hefty, jewel-encrusted tome coated with dust and old magic. It tells the story of the moon princess, a fairytale full of unicorns, Mother Nature, and an old feud.

But stories about a woman beloved by nature don't seem to have much to do with Maria, who is a thoroughly urban young woman. However, without a penny to her name she's forced to leave town and live in the country. She travels with Miss Heliotrope (Juliet Stevenson), who is determined to look out for the young lady in order to keep a promise she made to Maria's late mother. But their journey to Moonacre Valley is uncomfortable, and they are attacked on the way there.

When the two women do arrive they find Sir Benjamin Merryweather (Ioan Gruffudd) to be spiky and unwelcoming. He can barely tolerate the presence of women in his house, which is falling into disrepair. Meanwhile the nearby forest is full of ruffians from the De Noir family, ancient enemies of the Merryweathers. Sir Benjamin warns Maria not to go near them.

Moonacre is a place of strict prohibitions and unexpected delights, and Maria is keen to explore it all. Not being one to listen to instructions, her explorations soon bring her into contact with the De Noirs. The bowler-hatted Robin (Augustus Prew) has more than a touch of Alex from A Clockwork Orange about him, and he's out to get Maria. But he's a softie compared with his father Coeur De Noir (Tim Curry), who is hell-bent on revenge and murder. Coeur De Noir will stop at nothing to get at the Merryweathers, even if he hurts himself and his own family in the process.

With a curse that's due to come to fruition, a generous dose of magic, and an abundance of eccentric characters The Secret Of Moonacre is a charming mix of wonder, adventure and jokes about digestion. Well, maybe that last part isn't so charming. The film is worth watching just for Ioan Gruffudd's portrayal of the proud and stubborn Sir Benjamin. Once in a while Sir Benjamin's mask slips to reveal the painful secret he's trying to hide, and Gruffudd puts these emotions across perfectly.

As for the rest of it, if you're a fan of overplayed, melodramatic scenes laced with sugar and fairy-dust, it's sure to please. It's not big on realism, but who needs that when you can have long, flowing, impractical frocks and shining unicorns running through the forest? It's escapist, fun, and a very pretty film.

Film Details

Year: 2009

Categories: Films

  Kids     Fantasy

Classification: U

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4 star rating

Review © Ros Jackson
Read more about Gabor Csupo