Movie Review: The Secret of Moonacre

After the death of her father, 13 year old Maria Merryweather (Dakota Blue Richards) and her nanny, Miss Heliotrope (Juliet Stevenson) move to the countryside with her estranged Uncle, Sir Benjamin (Ioan Gruffudd). While getting adjusted to her new life at the mysterious Moonacre Manor, Maria discovers an ancient family feud between the Merryweathers and the sinister De Noirs. Now with the help of a zany chef, a magical unicorn, and her new friend Loveday (Natascha McElhone) she must unearth the secrets of the past and set things right by the 5000th rising of the moon to save her family’s Mansion.

Pros:
The setting of The Secret of Moonacre and the costumes are beautiful. This is exactly how a fairy tale should look. Upon further research I learned The Secret of Moonacre was filmed in Hungry and England so now I have an even stronger desire to travel abroad.

Tim Curry as the greedy and cruel Coeur De Noir was fantastic! I’m a huge Tim Curry fan (Congo is one of my all time favorite movies) so I was very excited to see him in this film. However I would have liked Tim to have more screen time. He was certainly more interesting to watch than the moody Sir Benjamin or the beautiful but no substance Loveday.

The unicorn and the lion were a nice touch. Again I wish these creatures had more screen time and (perhaps this is silly) that they talked or showed a bit more personality. The NeverEnding Story and The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe do a better job with this aspect.

Juliet Stevenson was wonderful as Miss Heliotrope, the awkward, gassy governess and Andy Linden was funny as Marmaduke the quirky cook. These two provided some much needed comic relief and kept the story a bit silly and whimsical which is exactly what a fairy tale needs to be.

Cons:
While the bones of this story seem to be good I kept getting the strong feeling that this movie was missing something. This film is based on the book The Little White Horse by Elizabeth Goudge so I suspect as with most novel to film adaptations that some characters were cut and elements of the story were simplified to fit in an hour and forty three minutes. If anyone has read this book let me know what was changed I’m curious.

Maria seems to have a bit of chemistry with Robin De Noir (Augustus Prew) but that is never fully explored. I feel that this could have been another nice side story to make the movie more interesting. Again why do I suspect that the book may have explored this more fully?

Rating: 3 Breaks the Spell This fairy tale is cute and mildly entertaining if you are looking for something to watch on Netflix with the kids.