This is a deeply satisfying movie. Yes, it's a tad soppy at times. Yes, there are times when the behaviour of some of the characters begs belief. But all is forgiven in the sheer strength of its story-telling.
The Mortmain family is headed by the very eccentric - try downright crazy - writer James Mortmain, who years earlier wrote one very successful novel, and who has been suffering from writer's block ever since.
His solution? Drag mistress and daughters to a wild part of the UK, and rent a dilapidated but incredibly scenic castle. And there let the family drag themselves up the best way they can, while he relentlessly continues to take pity on himself.
All would have continued nicely along this path, except for the sudden introduction of two young American brothers, who are just getting to know one another again after years of separation after their parents' divorce.
Two boys, two girls. A-ha. You know the ending already. Well, so did we. Or so we thought. One of the strengths of the movie is that it does lead you to suppose this is a conventional romantic movie. Far from it. Telling any more will be telling too much.
The undoubted star of this movie is Bill Nighy as the father - you'll have seen him more recently as the suddenly successful ageing rock-star in Love Actually. This is a beautifully paced, deeply felt portrayal, which gains depth as the film progresses.
Not far behind is Tara Fitzgerald (Brassed Off, Sirens) as his mistress, a woman of deeply unconventional convictions - including a deeply satisfying conviction that she must strip off to stand naked under thundering rain storms. Not since Sirens has Tara looked this good.
And the girls, Rose Byrne and Romola Garai, are well cast too, with Romola Garai, the narrator of our story, particularly convincing. The American boys, Henry Thomas and Marc Blucas, are excellent too in an objectionable American way - for Marc Blucas, it's good to see there's life after Buffy!
The rural settings are romantic in a very Wuthering Heights way - the city locales are dressed superbly in very snazzy and convincing 1930s chic which makes one pine for those times we never knew.
This is a satisfyingly moving and realistically unpredictable movie which deserved to do a lot better at the box office. It's good to have it home on DVD.
This is a superb anamorphically-enhanced transfer of a high-quality print.
Colours are deep and lustrous, flesh-tones are realistically rendered and even in the darkest night scenes shadow values and details remain clear.
There is some degree of aliasing in the closing credits, but that seems the only blemish in a very fine presentation.
The only track is a 5.1 Dolby Digital English affair, but that deals with all the exigencies of this character-and-dialogue driven movie.
It copes extremely well with the very occasional scenes that would give most systems a workout at high volume levels, particularly during Tara Fitzgerald's big emotional release in the storm.
This movie was obviously thought to have too limited general appeal to be worth going overboard with features. Hence no 'making of' documentaries, no director's commentary, no anything really.
But I'd class this as one to buy, as the acting and story-telling are at a very high level. It's worth having alone for the wonderful portrayal by Bill Nighy as the ostensible 'head of the family'. This was Academy-Award stuff, even though we know Academy members would never consider a relatively minor low-budget British movie for that sort of award.