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Theoretician Wolfgang Nehring has characterized the Austrian physician/novelist/dramatist Arthur Schnitzler in this fashion: " a courageous diagnostician of the people and society of his time", and with this romantically dressed, psychologically laced drama based upon a novel by Schnitzler, director Roberto Faenza has crafted a strongly atmospheric and artfully subtle piece that is, so to speak, delightful to the senses and satisfying to the mind. Keith Carradine is very effective as Doctor Emil Gräsler, a bachelor who has become emotionally sedated through use of shielding from his closeness with his unwed sister Frederica (Miranda Richardson), rationale for maintaining the comfort of his detachment from women, but after Frederica unexpectedly hangs herself, Emil seeks love to obviate the feelings of loss that have resulted from the abrupt end to the binding alliance with his sibling. He receives assistance in his amorous search from three widely disparate women, acutely played by Richardson (fulfilling the requirements of a well-developed dual role), Kristin Scott-Thomas, and Sarah-Jane Fenton. The film is an Italian/Hungarian production, shot in Italy and released there during 1991 under the title MIO CARO DOTTOR GRÄSLER and, with Hugh Fleetwood's tasteful English language screenplay, two years after in the United States where it was renamed THE BACHELOR and distributed in a sole San Francisco art house wherein fortunate patrons were pleasured by a vividly beautiful work, thanks to elegant and accurate period designing, inventive use of camera and colour by cinematographer Giuseppe Rotunno, along with seamless editing from Claudio Cutry, all under perfectly paced direction of Faenza who leads his highly capable cast, the creative readings of Fenton and Richardson earning for them partitioned acting laurels in an always interesting film that remains savoury after multiple viewings.
There isn't much to say about this Italian made, English language drama, starring Keith Carradine as a reserved but supposedly charming Austrian doctor trying to juggle two lovers and ultimately losing them both. The story is set in that familiar age of grace before World War One, but all the period costumes and picturesque European settings can't hide what looks like a bargain basement Merchant-Ivory production. Bright spots are provided by a boisterous Max Von Sydow (an actor who can work miracles with even the most lackluster script), and Miranda Richardson in a curious dual role. The only liability in the cast is Carradine himself, whose flat American accent is totally out of place in the Old World setting (recalling his similar miscasting in Ridley Scott's 'The Duelist'). The role demands more depth and charisma (or at least more enthusiasm) than he can muster, and under the perfunctory direction of a certain Roberto Faenza the film is never more than polite, mannered, and (for lack of a better word) inert.
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