DRAMA; 1hr 29min
STARRING: Ella Ballentine, Sara Botsford, Martin Sheen
Evergreen: Ballentine and Sheen
Since her 1908 debut in Lucy Maud Montgomery's beloved, sunshiny novel, 11-year-old orphan Anne Shirley has shone in umpteen film and stage incarnations. Director John Kent Harrison and screenwriter Susan Coyne don't fiddle with the halcyon ideal in this respectful retread — their Anne (Ballentine) is a redheaded honey and a full-hearted survivor who talks a blue streak and is prone to the odd hissy fit yet could still seduce a crustacean. The Green Gables farmhouse on Canada's Prince Edward Island, to which Anne is mistakenly shipped by her orphanage, is heaven on lush, emerald earth. Sealing the dewy-eyed deal, the overall spirit is as cosy as childhood innocence, despite Anne's heavily fostered early years being anything but.
Her luck changes when, after surprising no-nonsense Marilla Cuthbert (Botsford) and her softie brother, Matthew (Sheen), who were planning on a boy to help with farm chores, citified Anne gets to work on melting their hearts. And despite this being a made-for-TV movie, with the syrupy soundtrack and abrupt scene breaks that entails, unless your heart is a barnacle, prepare for a dissolve.