I Capture the Castle
Directed by Tim Fywell
Samuel Goldwyn, opens July 11, at Chelsea Cinemas and Cinema 2

In medieval England, invaders used to root out the enemy by catapulting garbage and diseased cows into their castles. In Tim Fywell’s coming-of-age yarn, set in 1936, the foreign interlopers take the form of wealthy Americans, who stroll into a family’s dilapidated tower at bath time and soon spirit away one of their daughters as a fiancée. Ten years earlier, the novelist James Mortmain (Bill Nighy) installed the wife and kids—including bookish, dutiful Cassandra (Romola Garai) and fledgling vamp Rose (Rose Byrne)—in a castle in rural southeast Britain. Now the fortress crumbles around them and so does Father in his molting cardigan, half-crazed by a decade of writer’s block. Enter the Yank inheritors, brothers Neil (Marc Blucas) and Simon (Henry Thomas); Rose pegs the latter as her ticket out of Suffolk poverty. Cassie’s diversionary tactics and diplomacy skills smooth the way, but matters romantic do complicate themselves.

Sweet and sleepy, I Capture the Castle might feel most comfortable in a Sunday-afternoon slot on the BBC: The humor is gentle and broad, the camerawork awkward, the landscape pastoral. It’s also a genial rehearsal space for the promising Garai, who plays Cassie as an effortlessly disarming mix of Elinor Dashwood and Angela Chase. —Jessica Winter

Confusion of Genders
Written and directed by Ilan Duran Cohen
Picture This!, opens July 9, at the Quad

In French writer-director Cohen’s sex farce—as programmatically wacky as its title implies—handsome, hollow-cheeked Pascal Greggory (Those Who Love Me Can Take the Train) plays Alain, a fortyish bisexual lawyer halfheartedly making his way through a revolving door of bedmates and lust objects. While the cute teen brother (Cyrille Thouvenin) of an ex-girlfriend is in avid pursuit, Alain and the neurotic senior partner at work (Nathalie Richard) are embroiled in businesslike marriage negotiations, complete with gruesomely awkward test sex—no sparks, but she gets pregnant. Very much a multitasker, Alain also develops a raging hard-on for an imprisoned bad-boy client (Vincent Martinez), who offers to fuck him in the visiting room if he’ll engineer a reconciliation with his pretty hairdresser ex-lover (Julie Gayet), whom Alain promptly decides to pursue as well. A few zingy lines are scattered amid the chatty indecision, and there’s an amiably caffeinated buzz as the roundelay of lopsided attractions is set in motion. But the characters exist in single dimensions (trapped in a noxiously misogynist role, even the fearless Richard stands no chance), and in an effort to keep the plates spinning, the movie quickly devolves from risqué to risible. —Dennis Lim