The spoiled rotten and utterly unlikable rich kid George Amberson becomes horrified when his recently widowed mother rekindles her relationship with the wealthy Eugene Morgan, who she left ... See full summary »
The spoiled rotten and utterly unlikable rich kid George Amberson becomes horrified when his recently widowed mother rekindles her relationship with the wealthy Eugene Morgan, who she left decades earlier in order to marry George's father. As George struggles to sabotage his mother's new romance, he must deal with his own romantic feelings for Morgan's daughter and the consequences of his meddling as his once great family falls into ruin due to his machinations... Written by
Finally a coherent film version of the Tarkington classic
Let's face it; Orson Welles's movie of The Magnificent Ambersons is a magnificent mess through no fault of its highly regarded director. Cut and edited to pieces by studio hacks (Robert Wise!!!) with the excised material now lost, the movie exists as a mere torso rather than a whole experience. So much is missing, that the movie is hard to follow unless you've read the book. The movie is certainly not what Welles wanted and it is unrepairable; a great tragedy in film history.
The new version on A&E may not have Welles's unique directorial ability or atmospheric lighting in black and white, but it does tell Tarkington's story coherently and on the whole, quite successfully. Director Alfonso Arau has purposely avoided the look of the Welles film, opting for a rich, epic color palette. The art direction is beautiful and you really get a flavor of turn of the century midwest American life.
Many reviewers have complained of Jonathan Rhys-Meyers performance of George. Frankly it is a brave and quite accurate portrayal. Tim Holt in the Welles film was hopelessly too mature looking to play Tarkington's headstrong brat. Georgie is not a very sympathetic character in the book and Rhys-Meyers studiously avoids turning him into the bland leading man that Welles allowed Holt to portray. Those that take issue with Rhys-Meyers don't know the book. He is the right age and certainly the right look for this difficult character. He is a dynamic actor that isn't afraid to be true to a character's inate nature. He's not easy to take at times, but Georgie isn't either!
Many have also criticized Jennifer Tilly's Fanny as not being the equal of Agnes Moorehead. Again, Tilly is closer to the book. Fanny is a hapless character which Tilly invests with a wonderful degree of humanity coupled with her unique brand of eccentricity. Moorehead had not not an ounce of charm and frankly was miscast. Madeleine Stowe, James Cromwell, and Bruce Greenwood are all excellent as are the supporting players.
Is this the ultimate version of this classic. Of course not. It is, however, a well made, BBC style television movie that is very true to Tarkington's novel and tells the story clearly, unapologetically and with some amount of panache. I give it an enthusiastic recommendation.
25 of 31 people found this review helpful.
Was this review helpful to you?