The Chalk Garden (1998) - Rotten Tomatoes

The Chalk Garden (1998)





Critic Consensus: No consensus yet.

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This film adaptation of Edith Bagnold's play stars Deborah Kerr as Miss Madrigal, the secretive new governess of British "problem child" Laurel (Hayley Mills). Both Madrigal and faithful butler Maitland (John Mills) are aware that Laurel's atrocious behavior stems from her belief that her oft-married mother (Elizabeth Sellars) does not love her. Madrigal determines to straighten out Laurel before she becomes totally unmanageable and hurts someone else. She knows what she's doing; Madrigal has just been released from a long prison term, having been charged with the murder of her stepsister. Dame Edith Evans steals every scene she's in as Laurel's wealthy grandmother, who is pulled away from tending her precious garden only when it appears that she has a murderess in her house (the old lady indicates that she's somewhat thrilled by the prospect). The Chalk Garden represented a "stretch" for Hayley Mills, who previously had been confined to sugary-sweet Disney heroines. ~ Hal Erickson, Rovi
Art House & International , Drama
Directed By:
Written By:
In Theaters:
MCA Universal Home Video


Deborah Kerr
as Ms. Madrigal
Hayley Mills
as Laurel
John Mills
as Maitland
Edith Evans
as Mrs. St. Maugham
Felix Aylmer
as Judge McWhirrey
Toke Townley
as Shop Clerk
Tonie MacMillan
as Mrs. Williams
Show More Cast

Critic Reviews for The Chalk Garden

All Critics (1)

The screen adaptation of Bagnold's famous play is so so, but the acting, especially of Dame Edith Evans, is excellent.

Full Review… | April 11, 2012

Audience Reviews for The Chalk Garden

Hayley Mills and Deborah Kerr together should have been a match made in heaven, but it doesn't live up to its potential. The Chalk Garden isn't a bad movie, but it lacks the special quality I was hoping for. It is also bizarre with an ending you will never expect. I wouldn't say that I truly understand this film. (First and only viewing - 11/16/2015)

Adam R
Adam R

★★★ (out of four) Based on the celebrated stage play, "The Chalk Garden" offers a serviceable plot and a nice feel. It is far from a masterpiece, but it features some superb performances, especially from Deborah Kerr and Dame Edith Evans. Deborah Kerr plays a woman who takes a job as a governess to a disturbed and spoiled girl, played by Hayley Mills. The girl's grandmother (Evans) is preparing to fight a legal battle with her daughter over the guardianship of her granddaughter. The script is too obvious at times with Hayley Mills over-the-top as a naughty teen. But Kerr and Evans (in her nominated role) more than make up for it. [IMG][/IMG]

Steve Smith
Steve Smith

We have seen movies about unruly kids before - kids who scare away governesses. Usually (like Sound of Music), the governess solves the kids' issues with some caring, and falls for the widower who hired her. The Chalk Garden is a little different. It is the grandmother who hires the governess, and in this case the governess is a convicted murderer. Interesting film.

Red Lats
Red Lats

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