Swallows And Amazons

Philippa Lowthorpe’s take on Arthur Ransome’s much-loved novel is a good-natured throwback, in which four young siblings form a gang while on holiday in the Lake District (‘The Swallows’), only to become embroiled in an adventure involving a rival group (‘The Amazons’) and some rather silly business about spying and secret agents on the cusp of World War II. I used to lap this kind of thing up when I was 10 or 11 years old, but I wonder whether it will seem a little slow and boring to kids today, who are generally more used to films that are bigger, faster and louder. Kelly MacDonald, Andrew Scott and Rafe Spall play the adults, and they’re joined by Harry Enfield and Jessica Hynes as a couple of gruff Cumbrians; one of the biggest shames is the latter pair are never really afforded the opportunity to cut loose. (**½)