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Set in 1930s Shanghai, where a blind American diplomat develops a curious relationship with a young Russian refugee who works odd -- and sometimes illicit -- jobs to support members of her dead husband's aristocratic family.
In mid-1800's England, Oscar is a young Anglican priest, a misfit and an outcast, but with the soul of an angel. As a boy, even though from a strict Pentecostal family, he felt God told him through a sign to leave his father and his faith and join the Church of England. Lucinda is a teen-aged Australian heiress who has an almost desperate desire to liberate her sex from the confines of the male-dominated culture of the Australia of that time. She buys a glass factory and has a dream of building a church made almost entirely of glass, and then transporting it to Bellingen, a remote settlement on the north coast. Oscar and Lucinda meet on a ship going to Australia; once there, they are for different reasons ostracized from society, and as a result "join forces" together. Oscar and Lucinda are both passionate gamblers, and Lucinda bets Oscar her entire inheritance that he cannot transport the glass church to the Outback safely. Oscar accepts her wager, and this leads to the events that ... Written by
This beautifully made romance has an odd appeal. I only ranked it a seven, because it has some flaws - the complicated story is is not rendered clearly in all its details (I could not figure out what was going on with the Reverend Haslitt, for example) and the style tends towards a gothic/romantic manneredness in places.
All the same, I recommend it for anyone who can tolerate the genre. I love these two actors, Ralph Fiennes and Cate Blanchett. They and the supporting cast, including the bit parts, fill out their roles with life, warmth and poignancy. There are numerous evocative touches in the details of the production - the mysterious moving church in the opening scene, for example, the music, the costumes, and the sets. The story is unique, original, character-based, and there are some unexpected flashes of insight into human nature.
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