Frances Hodgson Burnett’s classic children’s novel gets another cinematic adaptation, and while it isn’t as lovely as Agnieszka Holland’s 1993 version, it is quite enjoyable in its own way.
In this version, unpleasant and spoilt young Mary Lennoz (Egerickx) is alone in her home in British India following the death of both her parents. She is sent to Misselthwaite Manor, the Yorkshire home of her uncle Lord Craven (Firth) under the care of housekeeper Mrs Medlock (an underused Walters).
Stroppy and rude, having been raised by parents who didn’t have much interest in her, Mary is told not to explore the house (which she, of course, ignores) but is allowed the run of the gardens and woods, and it is there she discovers a friendly stray dog and a hidden walled garden that bursts into colour when she explores it.
She also learns she is not the only child at the manor, as the nightly screams she hears belong to Lord Craven’s sickly bedbound son, Colin (Hayhurst). Mary believes that her new found garden –which she sees as magical – will help heal Colin, so with the help of new friend Dickon (Wilson), she decides she must take him there.
Fans of the novel may not be impressed with the changes to the classic story – including an overly dramatic ending – that focus on spectacle rather than the book’s core theme of children discovering friendship, courage and healing while tending a garden together.
And while the stunning garden full of exotic and magical tropical plants looks gorgeous, it’s more suited to a fantasy like Alice In Wonderland rather than the adaptation of a simple story that would have been more moving if it had kept the children at its heart throughout.
Is The Secret Garden (2020) suitable for kids? Here are our parents’ notes...
Very young children may be upset at Mary being left alone in her India home, and may find the manor spooky as she explores it.
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