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film criticism by maryann johanson | since 1997

My Family and Other Animals (review)

The celebrated British naturalist Gerald Durrell headed, with his family, to the sunny Greek isle of Corfu for his 12th summer, 1935, and this is the absolutely enchanting BBC-TV adaptation of his beloved memoir of that time. (It aired in the U.S. in early 2006 on PBS’s Masterpiece Theater.) With the Durrell clan portrayed by, among others, Oscar nominee Imelda Staunton (Nanny McPhee) as the widowed matriarch, charming Eugene Simon (Casanova) as the spirited young George, and the magnetic Matthew Goode (Match Point) as the eldest Durrell offspring, Lawrence, who would himself go on to become a famed novelist, this is a beautifully acted, smart and spirited portrayal of an unconventional and rambunctious family who thrive — and drive one another insane — with their intellectual adventures and delightful willingness to live life as it comes. (George loves bugs, thrills to their amazing discoveries he makes on this exotic island, while Lawrence fills their rented villa with his eccentric counterculture friends.) So warm and effusive that you can practically feel the Mediterranean sun and the convivial familial love, this is the kind of lovely movie you wish you could step into and stay forever.

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MPAA: not rated

viewed at home on a small screen

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