Tom's Midnight Garden

*1/2

Reviewed by: Angus Wolfe Murray

Ghost stories are notoriously difficult to do on screen. Writer/director Willard Carroll manages to convey the supernatural rather well in this low-budget British film, but lacks the imagination to make anything of it.

The period is the Thirties when the educated middle classes were incapable of saying what they felt, being so constrained by social mores. Tom (Nigel Le Vaillant) goes to stay with his uncle (James Wilby) and aunt (Greta Scacchi) in Ely in an old house that has been turned into flats.

At midnight, he discovers another world outside the backdoor, a garden with a maze, acres of lawn and flowerbeds, where a young Victorian family play. One of them, a psychic girl about his age sees him and they become friends.

The young actor who plays Tom is not up to it. Wilby and Scacchi are cruelly wasted. Joan Plowright appears at the end to give one of her marinated-in-molasses performances.

The period atmosphere of repressed emotions is enhanced by a screenplay, tinkly with small talk. Even the ghosts lead dull lives.

Reviewed on: 19 Jan 2001
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Tom's Midnight Garden packshot
Boy plays with ghosts in the garden of a Victorian mansion.
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Director: Willard Carroll

Writer: Willlard Carroll

Starring: Greta Scacchi, James Wilby, Joan Plowright. Nigel Le Vaillant, Anthony Way, Florence Hoath, Caroline Carver

Year: 1999

Runtime: 107 minutes

Country: UK

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