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The exiled royal physician to King Charles II devotes himself to helping Londoners suffering from the plague, and in the process falls in love with an equally poor woman.



(novel), (screenplay)
Won 2 Oscars. Another 2 nominations. See more awards »



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Cast overview, first billed only:
John Pearce
Celia Clemence
Will Gates
Elias Finn
Mary MacLeod ...
Mark Letheren ...
Willie Ross ...
Man with Visible Heart
Merivel's Father


An aspiring young physician, Robert Merivel found himself in the service of King Charles II and saves the life of a spaniel dear to the King. Merivel joins the King's court and lives the high life provided to someone of his position. Merivel is ordered to marry one of the King's mistresses in order to divert the suspicions of another one of his mistresses. He is given one order by the king and that is not to fall in love. The situation worsens when Merivel finds himself in love with his new wife. Eventually, the King finds out and relieves Merivel of his position and wealth. His fall from grace leaves Merivel where he first started. And through his travels and reunions with an old friend, he rediscovers his love for true medicine and what it really means to be a physician. Written by P. Wong <>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


In a world of seduction and power, temptation has its price.

Motion Picture Rating (MPAA)

Rated R for sexuality | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:



Official Sites:





Release Date:

2 February 1996 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Restauración  »

Box Office


$19,000,000 (estimated)


$4,100,000 (USA)

Company Credits

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:


Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
See  »

Did You Know?


Its two Oscar nominations and wins (Best Art Direction and Best Costume Design) were up against, among other nominees, Richard III (1995) - which also featured Ian McKellen and Robert Downey Jr. in its cast. See more »


When Merivel leaves the Fire of London, he is floating down the River Thames. He is, apparently, discovered 15 miles from Bidnold, which is in Suffolk (unreachable from the Thames) See more »


[first lines]
Opening Title Card: In 1660 Charles II was restored to the English Throne ending 11 years of Oliver Cromwell's bleak Puritan rule. Thus began the age of Restoration. It was an era of scientific discovery, artistic exploration and luxurious sensuality.
Opening Title Card: It was also a time of natural disasters and archaic medical practices. Science was pitted against superstition. This is the story of one man's journey through the light and dark of those times.
See more »


Referenced in Skins: Sketch (2008) See more »


From John Playford's 'The English Dancing Master', First Edition (1651)
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User Reviews

Hidden Gem!
2 May 2000 | by (Cardiff, Wales) – See all my reviews

Restoration is one of the great overlooked gems of the 1990's. This movie is beautifully shot and competently directed. It is based closely on the original novel, and also reminds me of some of the more juicy excerpts from Samuel Pepys Diary. The use of real historical locations in Britain is inspired, for instance, the Fire of London and Cheapside market scenes were shot at Caerphilly Castle, the 13th-century moat doubling for the 17th-century Thames! Robert Downey gives a highly respectable performance as Merivel (and has an excellent British accent), but Meg Ryan is totally mis-cast, seeming very lost in some scenes. Sam Niell, I think, is probably the best casting for a British Monarch since Alec Guiness as Charles the First in Cromwell, and Dudley Sutton as James the First in Orlando. One of the best performances, however, comes from David Thewlis in support. His moving scenes with Downey at Tretower Court steal the movie. I worked as an extra on the movie, and some scenes for Pierce Brosnan's 'Crusoe' were shot back to back on the Cheapside market set. That movie has still to be released. 'Restoration' was filmed during 1994, and was delayed for release amid rumours of re-shooting scenes with Meg Ryan, and probable cold feet after the box-office difficulties with 'The Red Letter'.

This movie has not been given the credits it truly deserves, and is an excellent illustration of Court life and marriage politics during the reign of Britain's sexiest Monarch!

37 of 39 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you?

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