Based on the much loved Dodie Smith novel, I Capture the Castle is a frank coming of age drama seen through the eyes of its narrator, 17-year-old Cassandra Mortmain (Garai). Along with her sister Rose (Byrne) and young brother, her eccentric writer father (Nighy) and step mother Topaz (Fitzgerald), the Mortmain family appear to be living an idyllic, if isolated, existence in a shambolic castle. Beneath the surface, though, Cassandra's father is plagued by writer's block and their financial situation leaves a lot to be desired. When two American brothers claim the castle as their inheritance, the sisters, amongst other issues, have to deal with awakenings of their womanhood. Which is a nice way of saying that both young ladies get a trifle frisky when it comes to the American chaps (Thomas and Blucas).
Certainly not short of charm, this bright period adaptation is done a great service by the sprightly direction employed by Fywell in his feature debut. Eliciting fine performances from the always impressive Nighy and his female leads, Fywell keeps things moving at a nice, unhurried pace. The director's inexperience works against him in an overwrought finale, but there's still much to enjoy. Oh, and just in case you were wondering Tara Fitzgerald does get her kit off. Strange, that.