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In 1813, Capitaine Jacques St. Ives, a Hussar in the Napoleonic wars, is captured and sent to a Scottish prison camp. He's a swashbuckler, so the prison's commander, Major Farquar Bolingbroke Chevening, asks for lessons in communicating with women. Both men have their eyes on the lovely Flora, who resides with her aunt, the iconoclastic and well-traveled Miss Susan Emily Gilcrist. By chance, living close to the camp is Jacques's grandfather and brother, whom Jacques believes died years before. Jacques decides to escape, find his relatives, and win the hand of Flora; Major Chevening and an unforeseen enemy stand in his way. Can Miss Gilcrist contrive to make everything work out? Written by
What a fun movie St. Ives is. It reminds me of the type of film made during the 40's. Classic story, rounded off by characters and a plot that is neither over dramatic nor overtly complicated. In fact it isn't over anything. Robert Lewis Stevenson's story - here adapted for the screen - reads like Jane Austen for men. We do get a tale that has a romance at its heart, but there is plenty of fun too: battle scenes (sort of), prison escapes, mistaken identities, swordplay, and the funniest line I've heard in years: "Only in Scotland would guests be announced by name at a masked ball." There is much hilarity, hardship, and not a little heartbreak as St. Ives tries to fight and find his way back to a family and life he barely knew.
The cast is absolutely stellar with the too infrequently seen Jean Marc Barr absolutely perfect in the title role. Anna Friel is a refreshing delight as the resourceful Flora and Miranda Richardson nearly walks away with the movie as her wise and worldly, been there and seen-it-all Aunt Susan. Richard Grant provides comic relief of the highest order.
This is not going to be the greatest movie anyone has ever seen, but its charms are undeniable and the entire film fairly bristles with an energy that bursts with life.
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