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Catherine Sloper has found the man of her dreams in Morris Townsend, but her plans to marry him are strongly opposed by her father, who believes Townsend is only interested in his daughter for her money. But Catherine is determined to follow her heart, even if she loses her inheritance in the process. But just what are Townsend's intentions? Written by
Mike Myers <email@example.com>
Henry James' WASHINGTON SQUARE is well served in this solid film whose screenplay was adapted by Carol Doyle and has been directed with secure wisdom of James' style by Polish director Agnieszka Holland )'Europa, Europa', 'Red', 'Blue', 'Copying Beethoven', etc). The musical score is in the capable hands of Jan AP Kaczmarek and the Director of Photography is Jerzy Zielinski, and with all these elements in place, the last ingredient in making this a successful adaptation of a Henry James novel is the cast.
Fortunately the assembled cast matches the above credentials. Albert Finney is superb as the wealthy Dr. Austin Sloper who hoards his money in his mansion on Washington Square and whose overprotective rule of his less than attractive daughter Catherine (Jennifer Jason Leigh) - who is also under the influence of her overbearing Aunt Lavinia (Maggie Smith, still chewing the scenery as usual but convincing) - has put an impasse to Catherine's infatuation with the handsome but poor Morris Townsend (Ben Chaplin): if Catherine should choose to marry Morris she would be cut off as his heiress. James' models of womanhood are played well by Jennifer Garner as the niece that marries and breeds and her mother Aunt Elizabeth (Judith Ivey, currently wowing audiences in a revival of 'The Glass Menagerie'). Distance, imposed by the disapproving Dr. Sloper in escorting Catherine to Europe for a year, doesn't appear to squelch the passion between Catherine and Morris, but Morris finds work which takes him away from the returned Catherine, only to learn upon return that Catherine will not inherit her father's fortune - a glitch that sadly changes the relationship of what had appeared to be a true love romance. In the end the film follows Henry James' view of the world of his time - a palette for social criticism. Made in 1997, this film holds up very well indeed.
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