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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
Loosely based on an unfinished work by Robert Louis Stevenson, this light-hearted romp through 19th century Europe attends the fortunes of a dashing French hussar (Jean-Marc Barr, the ineffably beautiful star of THE BIG BLUE, and a regular in the films of Lars von Trier) as he wines and wenches his way through the Napoleonic wars before being captured by the enemy and interned in a Scottish prison camp. There, he's befriended by a sympathetic warder (Richard E. Grant) who recognizes his status as a 'gentleman', and is helped to escape by a romantic young noblewoman (Anna Friel) and her idiosyncratic aunt (Miranda Richardson). Eventually, Barr stumbles on the scattered remnants of his long-lost family (Michael Gough is the benevolent grandfather, while Jason Isaacs plays the younger brother who would rather see Barr dead than share his inheritance), and is pursued across the English Channel by those who would either worship or destroy him.
Director Harry Hook (LORD OF THE FLIES) plays things low-key for the most part, which means this swashbuckling comic adventure isn't nearly as swashbuckling, comic or adventurous as Allan Cubitt's witty script suggests, but the period settings are a treat and the characters are nicely underplayed by a game cast (Barr is proud and genial, while Grant and Richardson steal the show as, respectively, an incompetent fop and a worldly woman who cultivate a boiling passion for one another, despite their strict adherence to the rules of etiquette, leading to some of the film's most hilarious sequences). Perhaps too restrained for its own good, the movie strikes a diplomatic balance between humor and drama, but there's enough of both to satisfy casual viewers and hard-boiled movie fans alike. Also known as ALL FOR LOVE.
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