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22 out of 22 people found the following review useful:

This engagingly old-fashioned swashbuckler deserves to become a cult

8/10
Author: silverwhistle (docm@silverwhistle.free-online.co.uk) from Glasgow, Scotland
6 December 2001

First of all, 'St. Ives' the film is only fairly loosely based on the Robert Louis Stevenson story of the same name, but for once, this is not a criticism. The original novel was a work-in-progress, unfinished at the author's death, and in freely adapting it and giving it an ending, the film-makers have brought to life some endearing characters who, although different from Stevenson's originals, would, I am sure, have charmed and amused him.

It is 1813: Capitaine Jacques de Kéroual de Saint-Yves is a Breton aristocrat, orphaned by the Revolution's guillotine, now serving as a hussar in Napoleon's army. We meet him going out for the evening, claiming that since a hussar who is not dead by 30 is "a blackguard", he, at 34, is now "on borrowed time"! Certainly, as he faces a string of challenges to duels, our dashing hero seems in danger, but a surreal prank on his Colonel provides him a way out of the duels and into the bed of a beautiful courtesan/singer. Unfortunately, it also results in losing his commission... Further misadventures result in him being taken prisoner by the British, and sent to a POW camp in a Scottish castle.

While carving toys and boxes, Jacques catches the attention of Flora, the young niece of Miss Susan Gilchrist, a well-travelled woman of the world who lives at Swanston Cottage. They fall in love, and most of the story concerns Flora helping Jacques to escape and to find his emigré grandfather, the old Comte. Of course, there is a problem. Jacques' older brother, Alain, a dissolute alcoholic, is - perhaps understandably - far from pleased when Grandfather disinherits him in front of the whole household, the very instant that Jacques has appeared... Cue treachery! There is also an entertaining subplot of the romance between the awkward, naïf but good-hearted Major Farquhar Chevening and Aunt Susan, who has travelled through most of the Ottoman Empire and been a prisoner of the Turks.

Even allowing for a natural prejudice in favour of any film in which the heroines share my surname, 'St. Ives' is magic! It combines splendidly swashbuckling swordfights, a balloon-flight, comedy and romantic adventure. I would recommend it to anyone who loves 'the kind of film they don't make anymore' - Fairbanks, Colman, Flynn, & co. The acting is splendid. Anna Friel makes Flora a spirited and appealing heroine, and Jean-Marc Barr is delightful as Jacques, a genuinely lovable hero. Miranda Richardson and Richard E. Grant are already great favourites of mine, and have great fun as Susan and Farquhar, whose relationship runs as a comic counterpoint to that of the leads. As the rakish, scheming, but ultimately tragic Alain, Jason Isaacs shows, as he did more recently in 'The Patriot', that he has the classic swashbuckling style, besides the dashing good looks! Please, please will someone cast him as a *hero* in the genre?!!!

My main quibbles with the film concern settings and costumes. In the book, the castle in which Jacques is a prisoner is clearly Edinburgh, but the film, shot in Ireland, Germany and France has 'Highlandised' the setting, making the retention of place names such as Swanston, Inveresk and Queensferry decidedly incongruous. The costumes too are a real hotch-potch, from 1780s through to the period in which it is set. While this would not be implausible with more down-market characters "making do", it seems odd for well-to-do ladies such as the heroines to be wearing 1780s gowns in 1813. Clearly, the costuming decision was æsthetic: these earlier styles are visually far more appealing and elegant than Regency fashions, and they work in the idealised world of the film. As a whole, 'St. Ives' is 90 minutes of pure delight.

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14 out of 15 people found the following review useful:

Terrific Napoleonic Era Romp

8/10
Author: gpadillo from Portland, Maine
23 August 2005

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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12 out of 12 people found the following review useful:

A delight

Author: (jost@geh.org) from Rochester NY
29 December 2003

This is a lighthearted, colorful romp set in an interesting historical time period....the final years of Napoleon's reign. Lively performances by all the principals, in particular Miranda Richardson's naughty but nice, "liberated" bon vivant and the wonderful comic touches of Richard Grant's character (cracked me up several times, especially the wedding scene) which contribute significantly to its overall success. Stunning, vibrant color...those British redcoats never looked so red, Flora's buttercup yellow dress, a vision. Next, I read the book and meet Robert Louis Stevenson's characters all over again.

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11 out of 12 people found the following review useful:

entertaining, and maintains tone

Author: rxw from San Francisco, US
5 June 2003

straightforward adventure that doesn't veer too far into comedy (though it is funny) or action (though it is exciting). actors are appealing, pace is well-set, and the picture looks gorgeous. you'll be entertained, but the movie does not make a very deep impression.

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9 out of 9 people found the following review useful:

Entertaining romantic comedy adventure yarn

8/10
Author: Lars Stenberg (lars@calligrafix.co.uk) from Edinburgh, Scotland
7 June 1999

Based on Robert Louis Stevenson's St. Ives, the film tells the story of a dashing young French Hussar captain (Jean Marc Barr) during the Napoleonic wars. Captured in battle he is sent to a prisoner of war camp in the Scottish Highlands, run by Major Farquhar (Richard E Grant) In short order he falls in love with a local girl (Anna Friel), strikes up a friendship with the Major, and discovers that his long lost grandfather, who fled from France during the revolution, lives just up the road! Spirited performances from all the cast and some memorable lines make this an above average offering.

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4 out of 5 people found the following review useful:

Low-key costumer mixes laughs and drama

5/10
Author: Libretio
31 December 2004

ST. IVES

Aspect ratio: 1.85:1

Sound format: Dolby Stereo

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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3 out of 4 people found the following review useful:

a fun adventure

6/10
Author: BWMonkey from Boston, MA
27 March 2004

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

*a possible SPOILER or two*

yes, it was fun to watch. i like all the actors in it, especially Richard E. Grant and Jason Isaacs. the charcters were delightful and the set was marvelously done. bits of the storyline were choppy at times, but that can be forgiven.

jaques st. ives, the main chacter of the film, was very very fun to watch. a handsome young man with a cocky attitude and noble heart who manages to find his long-lost grandfather and brother. now the brother, alain, was the bad guy of the film, but ultimately you felt pity for him.

SPOILER: funny story: near the end, when he was dying and apoligizing and jaques was bending over him my mom kept saying "what're you doing!? don't get too close, you damn fool!" i think she thought that alain, the pitiful malicious brother who is out to kill jaques and who realizes his mistake in the end and shows brotherly love (funny how a sword point in your gut can do that), was suddenly going to jump up and kill them all. personally, i think that would have been a cool ending, but i'm tired of seeing jason isaacs die every time he plays a character i like (namely, a villian).

i would recommend this film if you want something light and fun, with a couple cool sword fights and cute love story.

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1 out of 1 people found the following review useful:

nice

Author: Armand from Romania
26 December 2013

a nice romantic comedy. not extraordinary, not so bad, only common. the story is far to be seductive and acting remains occasion for a not hard work for good cast. so, an old story, an old performance. only isles of interest - the roles created by Miranda Richardson and Richard E. Grant. the not inspired idea - Jean - Mark Barr as Jacques Sait Ives. his desire to define the character is admirable but he remains only a French actor in skin of a French character,the not great choice for a role who must drive the story. for the fans of first XIX century atmosphere , the film could be a nice option. for the others - meeting with few interesting actors.

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5 out of 13 people found the following review useful:

Just one thing..

4/10
Author: Spuzzlightyear from Vancouver
2 January 2005

I found this film to be quite an oddity. From the very get go I found it extremely hard to like this movie, and now after a little thinking about it I can pretty much pinpoint the reason why. Jean-Marc Barr, although I love him to bits (I think Zentropa is one of the best movies ever made) is quite miscast here, and although I can't figure for the life of me who would be better, I am sure someone could have taken his place quite easily and make this film work. Everything else is fine, except for the stabs at weak comedy (A Meet The Parents Joke is not really needed, filmmakers!) and I really like Richard E. Grant as the British Major. It just suffers from one thing.. Jean-Marc.

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0 out of 4 people found the following review useful:

Not bad, but I don't feel charmed

6/10
Author: akasha_shamira_dracula from Poland
16 March 2007

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

I don't know, maybe because I heard a lot about this film made me have high hopes. Too high it seems. The movie isn't bad, but it's too short, told to quickly, you get the feeling that the director was in a hurry to catch a plane or something. That's the biggest minus, well, that after the music. In this movie there is either no music at all, or it suddenly appears and gives the viewer a earache.

Little spoiler I suppose, but read it if you wanna keep your ear drums in one piece: The music in the opening scene, when the beginning credits start, hits you suddenly in such a volume, like the creators wanted to fix the viewers up deaf.

end of spoiler I don't know if it was the quality of the DVD or not, but visually you it's not too capturing, like in the case of characterization - budget cuts on wigs that everyone had such mousy, thin hair or something? Some costumes, don't fit the time period. And the camera work leaves a few wishes. That were the minuses, now the pluses.

The pluses are, that when the story screenplay is chopped up at least the dialogs try to keep up. A few laughs guaranteed, out of Aunt Susan and "galloping" Major Chevening mostly. Unfortunately I can't say that I enjoyed the performance of the main characters - all ms. Friel - Flora does here is sighing, being a cold fish and completely unconvincing. Mr. Barr - Jaques St. Ives is suppose to be a boyish Casanova that suddenly changes and falls deeply in love in a fair maiden - but why don't I see that love? First he was dull and pretended to be a Casanova, then he became dull and pretended to be in love - no success in either version. And then there is mr. Isaacs - Alain St. Ives, well clearly he tries to do something with his role, but doesn't have too much of an occasion to do it, he appears in 7 scenes from what I counted and they were short. A pity as he's capable of stealing the show if he has an occasion for it - unfortunately here he didn't get it. Frankly, I have a feeling that his acting was the only thing that made his character tolerable, because the construction of the role seemed horribly shallow.

Pretty much it and comparing this film to classics with Errol Flynn is too much of a complement for it. It in no way holds the climate you can find for example in the classical "The Sea Hawk" from 1940. I'll give it a 6 on 10 for ms. Richardson and mr. Grant.

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