Based on the novel of the same name by Edith Wharton, it is about a husband and wife (Ethan and Zeena), who need an extra hand around the house due to Zeena's debilitated body and constant ... See full summary »
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Laura San Giacomo,
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Based on the novel of the same name by Edith Wharton, it is about a husband and wife (Ethan and Zeena), who need an extra hand around the house due to Zeena's debilitated body and constant illness. The young woman who joins them is a beautiful, spirited person. She and Ethan fall in love much to the dismay of Zeena. Written by
Jason Ihle <firstname.lastname@example.org>
In a winter scene early in the film, a Red-eyed Vireo can be heard singing in the dead of winter in Massachusetts. These birds winter in Amazonia, and arrive in Massachusetts in late spring. See more »
A straight forward high romance put in a strait jacket...lots of squirming here
Ethan Frome (1993)
This is a classic Edith Wharton melodrama, a hyper-romantic short novel that has turned on and turned off many high schoolers and literature majors over the years. It's a great story and it's hard to go totally wrong with it, but it's an old fashioned story, and more slow and steady than filled with amazing or surprising turns and emotional insights.
Another way to put it is: it isn't a Bronte novel.
So a movie version of Ethan Frome has to find some way of pulling us in very deeply, through characterization, through ambiance, through an attention so small things that make the main plot take on resonance. None of that quite happens here.
The photography makes clear from the first scenes that it is very careful, which isn't a bad thing. The whole film has a steady, beautiful, somewhat constrained quality, using lots of available light. We watch the title character, played by Liam Neeson, with a growing sense of calm partly because of the camera. When we discover the relationship between Frome and his wife, and then with his wife's relative who has come to "help" them with chores, it is always bordering on stiff. I think this is meant to imply a formality to life at the turn of the century (the book was written in 1911 and set a few years earlier). But to my mind people were not so poised, or afraid, or following puritanical strictures as all that.
At any rate, the move ends up weirdly flat as a result. We know the events are romantically intense, but we don't get swept away by them. It's surprising no movie version has been attempted before this one. And it will be surprising if another is tried, hopefully with more effect. This isn't at all bad, nothing glaring here, but being "not bad" isn't quite the idea in the end.
4 of 4 people found this review helpful.
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