1 item from 1994
MONTREAL -- The marketing people at TriStar will have their work cut out for them with this specialized and awkwardly titled British entry, but it won't be for any lack of quality on the film's part. Michael Austin's ''Princess Caraboo, '' which received its world premiere at the Montreal Film Festival, is the kind of witty, sophisticated comedy that is rarely made anymore.
Based loosely on a true story, the picture has the quality of a fable. Set in the early 19th century in a small English village, the story's events are set in motion by the appearance of a mysterious and exotic beauty, speaking an indecipherable language. She is presumed to be an Oriental princess who has been rescued from a shipwreck, and is taken into the household of the kindly Mrs. Worrall (Wendy Hughes) and her boorish, financially scheming husband (Jim Broadbent).
Princess Caraboo (Phoebe Cates), as she comes to be called, is regarded with suspicion by the Greek servant Frixos (Kevin Kline) and by Gutch (Stephen Rea), a local journalist. Gutch even calls in a language expert, hilariously played by John Lithgow, in an effort to discredit her.
But Princess Caraboo defies all explication, and despite their best efforts, all the men are drawn into her spell. Ultimately, we learn the secret of Princess Caraboo, and the results are no less intriguing.
For much of the way, the film is witty and amusing, helped by the expert comic performances of Kline (working again in a broader mode) and Broadbent. ''Princess Caraboo'' is less compelling when it turns more serious about two-thirds of the way through, but it is ultimately a charming and moving tale.
The film looks gorgeous with its sumptuous period settings and costumes.
The performances are all fine, with Cates' dark beauty and Rea's rumpled charm used to excellent advantage.
A TriStar Release
Presented by TriStar Pictures and Beacon
A Longfellow Pictures & Artisan Films Production
Director Michael Austin
Screenplay Michael Austin, John Wells
Producers Andrew Karsch, Simon Bosanquet
Director of photography Freddie Francis
Production designer Michael Howells
Film editor George Akers
Mr. Worrall Jim Broadbent
Princess Caraboo/Mary Phoebe Cates
Mrs. Worrall Wendy Hughes
Frixos Kevin Kline
Professor Wilkinson John Lithgow
Gutch Stephen Rea
Running time -- 97 minutes
MPAA Rating: PG
(c) The Hollywood Reporter
1 item from 1994
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