From Time to Time

Writer/Director/Producer Julian Fellowes ("Gosford Park") brings us two deliciously realized time periods at one stately English mansion: the early 1940s of WWII and the 1740s of two hundred years earlier. We see a lad in knee pants, played by Alex Etel ("Millions"), waiting at a 1940s train station for someone to meet him and transport him to the ancestral home of his grandmother, played by Maggie Smith ("Harry Potter").

Our young fellow has no more than arrived when he is startled by the ghost of a teenage girl who is evidently blind. She is aware of him, but her companions literally walk right through him, much to his amazement. The next morning he attempts to steer a chat with Granny to the topic of ghosts but she beats him to it, correctly assuming he has seen one of his ancestors. When he describes the apparition, she identifies the girl and starts to relate the family history that surrounds her.

This Films 4 Families selection at the 2010 Seattle International Film Festival is full of mystery, suspense, and respect for the ability of the audience to follow the exciting plot. We pop into the 1740s, go to the 1940s and then go back again. The cast is first rate and the production values are pure "Fellowes," i.e., elegant and authentic.

Personally, I think Alex Etel is a little tall to be wearing short pants, but I guess if that was the style of the day for boys his age...