The movie is a study of a family of country gentry in Victorian England. William Adamson, a young scientist, is introduced into the Alabaster family by Reverend Mr Alabaster who is also fascinated by insects. William marries the older daughter of the family and studies the amounts of insects in the garden of the villa. His - for the gentry - strange behaviors reveal at the same time their own failures and passions. Written by
As one fellow IMDb user stated, there are very few reviews in the grey area for "Angels and Insects". However, I can honestly say that when I first saw the film in 1995 (I was about 12 at the time) I wasn't very impressed. From a very young age I have been interested in period films and thought provoking themes, however, upon first viewing I was incredibly bored by the whole project.
Flash forward to 2003 and I found that I had a whole new appreciation for the film. As a matter of fact, it has become one of my favorites. I don't find the plot particularly shocking, however, the execution of the script is excellently paced. I like the fact that William Adamson realizes that beauty isn't necessarily exhibited on the outside. (However, I find Matty to be far more striking in appearance than Eugenia). He realizes that like his insects (ants in particular), the Alabaster family has a unique and questionable structure/nature.
The soundtrack, costumes, and use of light and location are superb. It isn't by accident that the costumes mimic some of the insects mentioned in the film. (For example, Eugenia's bee dress and her Morpho Eugenia sapphire gown). The Alabaster estate is quiet a piece of eye candy, as are the shots of insects set to the beautiful string based soundtrack. Though this use of symbolism may not be very original, it is beautiful just the same.
I do have to come to the defense of some of the actors, however. Some comments mention that the acting is somewhat wooden. I tend to disagree. (Everyone is entitled to their opinion, of course). Okay, so Patsy Kensit may not be the next Vanessa Redgrave, however, I think she offers what the part calls for. Her "wooden" nature fits the character. I see Eugenia as having a definite mental imbalance, thus her often subdued acting seems appropriate. Kristin Scott Thomas is excellent as the clever and mysterious Matty. As for the rest of the cast, I believe that they all did a fine job portraying these somewhat difficult characters.
I have yet to read the A.S. Byatt novella "Morpho Eugenia", however, that is going to be my next project. Naturally, I would be curious to see how the film and the novella compare. Either way, I still feel that "Angels and Insects" deserves my highest regards.
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