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An Ideal Husband (1999)

PG-13 | | Comedy, Romance | 30 June 1999 (USA)
Sir Robert Chiltern is a successful Government minister, well-off and with a loving wife. All this is threatened when Mrs Cheveley appears in London with damning evidence of a past misdeed.... See full summary »



(play), (screenplay)

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Nominated for 2 Golden Globes. Another 4 wins & 15 nominations. See more awards »





Cast overview, first billed only:
Neville Phillips ...
Nickolas Grace ...


Sir Robert Chiltern is a successful Government minister, well-off and with a loving wife. All this is threatened when Mrs Cheveley appears in London with damning evidence of a past misdeed. Sir Robert turns for help to his friend Lord Goring, an apparently idle philanderer and the despair of his father. Goring knows the lady of old, and, for him, takes the whole thing pretty seriously. Written by Jeremy Perkins {J-26}

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


He just doesn't know it yet.


Comedy | Romance

Motion Picture Rating (MPAA)

Rated PG-13 for brief sensuality/nudity | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:






Release Date:

30 June 1999 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Un esposo ideal  »

Filming Locations:


Box Office


$14,000,000 (estimated)

Opening Weekend:

£492,309 (UK) (16 April 1999)


$18,535,191 (USA) (1 October 1999)

Company Credits

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:



Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
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Did You Know?


When guests are being announced at the political party in the beginning of the movie, the name "Lord Windemere" is called. "Lady Windermere's Fan" is the title of another popular Oscar Wilde play dealing with sullied reputations. See more »


The closing scene of 'The Importance of Being Earnest' is shown as taking place in a garden. That is the setting for Act 2; the final Act 3 takes place in 'The Morning-Room of the Manor-House, Woolton'. See more »


Laura: Wonderful woman, Lady Markby, isn't she? Talks more and says less than anybody I ever met.
See more »

Crazy Credits

The credits list Oliver Parker, the director, as playing "Bunbury", one of the gentlemen that is seen playing cards with Lord Goring in the Men's Club when Lord Chiltern arrives. Bunbury is also a never-seen character in "The Importance of Being Earnest", the play which is performed in the background of several scenes of this film. See more »


Version of Ein idealer Gatte (1935) See more »

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User Reviews

civilized entertainment
25 January 2000 | by (United States) – See all my reviews

Based on the Oscar Wilde play of the same name, "An Ideal Husband" scores as a moderately entertaining drawing room comedy thanks to the elegance of its design and the performances of its first rate cast. Although it contains many elements of a classic Feydeau farce - comic misunderstandings, delicately timed missteps, hairbreadth missed encounters - the film lacks the kinetic energy necessary to allow these elements to completely shine through. Instead, we are treated to a more laid back, more traditionally British interpretation of the events. Indeed, the real charm of the film lies in its sharp observation of British gentility thinly disguising the often honey-tongued brutality lying just below the placid surface of this society. No one smiles more sincerely or maintains such immense social poise while slicing one's opponents to shreds than the elite of England - and this quality director Oliver Parker captures in complete fidelity to Wilde's overall vision.

Jeremy Northam portrays a highly respected and happily married member of the House of Commons who is suddenly confronted with a moral dilemma: should he allow a blackmailer to expose an egregiously immoral action in his past, thereby ensuring the ruination of both his career and his marriage, or should he go along with the blackmailer's demands and publicly support a cause he knows to be highly unethical and injurious to both his people and his nation? Julianne Moore portrays the woman who waltzes suddenly into his life and attempts to threaten him into supporting a doomed canal project to protect her own financial investment. Rupert Everett also stars as a confirmed bachelor who manages to become intricately involved in everyone's affairs.

The film succeeds most when it concentrates on the stuffiness of the stiff-upper-lipped British tradition juxtaposed to the single-minded viciousness of the Moore character. She delivers a delightful interpretation of an amoral woman utilizing cruelty to achieve her desired ends, fitting perfectly into a morally topsy-turvy world which feasts on scandal and the ruination of its own members, yet where a mismatched tea set stands as the ultimate in moral turpitude. Wilde, on the other end of the morality spectrum, also subtly jabs at the unrealistic obsession with virtue in the character of Northam's impossibly pure wife (Cate Blanchett); she erects so high a moral pedestal for her husband to stand upon that it is only after she has been caught in a moral infraction herself that the world these characters inhabit can come back into any sort of balance.

The film is probably least effective when trying to cope with the complex interweaving and overlapping of the characters and their situations. Packer simply does not provide the manic energy and chaotic pacing necessary to make such plot mechanics soar on screen. As a result, "An Ideal Husband" is more likable as a genteel British comedy of manners than the unbridled drawing room farce it seems so often to want to be. Still, this is a film to be savored and enjoyed on many levels.

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