Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Review: Framed

I finally got around to watching Framed, one of the Masterpiece Contemporary offerings from the 2010 season, and it is a delight!

Quentin (Trevor Eve) and Angharad ( Eve Myles)
When flooding in London's National Gallery precipitates the transfer of its treasured paintings to safety in an abandoned slate mine in the Welsh countryside, curator Quentin Lester (Trevor Eve), a worshipper of art to the exclusion of people, squires his beloved masterpieces to safety, secretly pleased to have them all to himself. There, he encounters a lineup of quirky inhabitants including the spirited and lovely, if slightly nosy, local schoolteacher, Angharad (Eve Myles), and a 10-year-old boy, Dylan Hughes. In a chain of misunderstandings triggered by a wayward chicken, Quentin mistakes Dylan, whose father has just left the family in the face of financial woes, for an art connoisseur and kindred spirit. But when Dylan, in desperation, plans the art heist of the century with his criminal-mastermind-in-training sister Minnie, the results reveal how these paintings on the move have tremendous power to move people. Framed is based on the bestselling book by Frank Cottrell Boyce (summary from PBS).

Framed is an uplifting story that centers around the small Welsh village of Manod, which secretly sheltered National Gallery paintings during WWII and is called into service again after a flooding at the museum. Quentin Lester arrives from London hoping for a solitary existence with only the paintings for company, but is soon charmed by the local teacher Angharad and the collection of unique locals. There is a nice symmetry between Angharad's high-spirited ways and Quentin's more guarded and cynical persona. She helps him to see that art is not meant to be kept in safe and secure boxes for viewing by a select few, but should be shared and experienced by all. He in turn shows a surprising depth and unexpected kindness towards the townspeople. The scene where Angharad explains to Quentin that Dylan's love of Donatello has more to do with the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles than Italian Renaissance painters is so charming and funny. And it's inspiring to see each character make their own art out of the difficult circumstances in their lives, whether it's Marie creating a photo collage of her baby brother or the butcher finding solace and purpose through a Monet painting.

Dylan and Minnie Hughes (Samuel Davies and Mari Ann Bull)
I thought the young actors playing Dylan and Minnie (Samuel Davies and Mari Ann Bull) were fantastic, and able to demonstrate a wide range of emotions, from despair at their father leaving to Minnie's craftiness in hatching a plan to save their struggling garage. Using a knowledge of crime taken exclusively from the movie The Italian Job, she decides to steal a painting from the cave and use it to raise money. Her older brother is just along for the ride until she reveals that her plan didn't extend past the actual theft. Luckily everything works out in the end, for the townspeople, Quentin and Angharad and the Hughes family.

Rating: 4 out of 5 stars. Lively, funny and sweet, Framed is an enjoyable story about the power of art to transform a village and the people in it. I only wish it had a longer running time than 82 minutes so the writers could have devoted more time to each character's story, especially the romance between Quentin and Angharad. Framed is available to watch online here until January 25.


  1. I seriously shrieked out loud when I read the description of this. How have I not heard of it? I want it immediately!

  2. Great review! So happy you enjoyed this movie too, it was such a treat!

  3. @ Jenny: You should definitely check it out- I hope you enjoy it!

    @ Ruth: Thanks Ruth! It was a such a cute movie.