6.9/10
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133 user 104 critic

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 »

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

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Neville Phillips ...
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Storyline

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}

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Taglines:

He just doesn't know it yet.

Genres:

Comedy | Romance

Motion Picture Rating (MPAA)

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

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Release Date:

30 June 1999 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Un esposo ideal  »

Box Office

Budget:

$14,000,000 (estimated)

Opening Weekend:

£492,309 (UK) (16 April 1999)

Gross:

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

Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
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Did You Know?

Trivia

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 »

Goofs

Several MPs including Lord Caversham are shown wearing top hats in Parliament. MPs didn't (and still don't) wear hats during a session of the House, unless they are raising a Point of Order while a vote is in progress. See more »

Quotes

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

Connections

Version of Au théâtre ce soir: Un mari idéal (1972) See more »

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User Reviews

Good, but it could have been great
6 July 1999 | by (Newton, MA) – See all my reviews

If I weren't so lazy, I would have checked the original play to see if my favorite line from the movie was in it:

Goring's father: I use nothing but my common sense. Goring: So my mother tells me.

Even if was concocted for the film, that line still contains the essence of Wilde and the essence of all modern British humor, for which, I should say, I'm a major sucker. While watching An Ideal Husband, I didn't object to the lack of suspense as long as Rupert Everett was working his way around those Wilde lines, which he does as well as anyone I've ever heard.

I used to think Stephen Fry was Wilde on earth, but Fry is something wonderfully different -- Everett is Wilde on earth, or at least the actor that Wilde should have had around to deliver those lines when he wrote them. I first saw Everett in The Madness of King George, for which he put on weight. Every review of that film mentioned this; I thought the attention excessive, but when I saw him lying shirtless in a sauna, I understood. The man is, shall we say, cut. I can only imagine the effect of that scene on straight women or gay men -- probably something akin to the effect Greta Scacchi's "I think we're alone now" smile at the end of The Coca-Cola Kid has on me.

An Ideal Husband is full of good performances, with one glaring exception: the usually great Julianne Moore. Her scenes are curiously leaden, and Parker -- whose fault this may be -- has the camera linger over her as though the exposure will convince us how evil she is. The one exception is her scene with Everett, which has a real "Will he sleep with the enemy?" tension. It may be that Moore was just outclassed by the Brits, who are born to this stuff.

Cate Blanchett, whom I've seen in three movies, two of which were British period pieces, continues to amaze me with her range.

The unsung hero of the movie is Jeremy Northam, who takes a thankless role -- the man in the play who isn't the Oscar Wilde figure -- and makes it emotionally compelling. He is responsible for the play's only real suspense and emotion, since the rest is word games, more or less.

All of which leads me to blame the production's shortcomings on its writer/director, Oliver Parker. He seems to have squandered an outstanding cast. The play's final scene is played as a series of French scenes -- a film term for a series of different scenes in the same location -- and this kills any momentum that scene might have had.

Three out of four stars, I say, which makes it better than 90% of the movies out there.


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