Andrew Garfield, Mahershala Ali, Ruth Negga, and five others received their first-ever acting nominations for 2017. While these actors are new to the Academy Awards, you may recognize them from their earlier work.
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In the 50's, the psychiatrist Max Raphael is hired to work as superintendent of an asylum in the outskirts of London, and he moves with his wife Stella Raphael and their son Charlie. Stella has a passionless marriage and is ignored by Max; her boredom changes when her son befriends the handsome inmate Edgar Stark, an sculptor that in a crisis of jealousy had killed and disfigured his wife, and that is treated by Dr. Peter Cleave, an ambitious psychiatrist that aspired Max's position. During the afternoons, Stella has a hot adulterous affair with Edgar until the day he escapes and their affair is discovered. Stella has to take a decision between her family and her wild passion for Edgar. Written by
Claudio Carvalho, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
Excellent Adaptation - A Gripping and Haunting tale of Obsessive Love
Very briefly, the story concerns Stella, the wife of a newly arrived deputy superintendent of a prison hospital for the criminally insane and the developing relationship that she forms with one of the trusted inmates. Nothing particularly original about a tale of doomed love - you inevitably suspect that the outcome will be disastrous, but the tale unfolds in a way that is unexpected and gripping. What makes Asylum stand out is the environment in which the tale is set and the quality of the production. I read the book on which the film is based some years ago. I often find that having read a book, a subsequent film can be a disappointment, possibly because the pictures you have formed in your mind vary from those that appear on screen. Asylum differed in this respect and I came away from the viewing haunted by what I had seen and greatly impressed with the absorbing nature of the production. For the benefit of any readers unfamiliar with the work of the author Patrick McGrath, his books often feature characters that are mentally ill. He knows the subject well as he grew up living in the grounds of Broadmoor, the English prison hospital for the criminally insane that features in this story. His father worked on the medical staff there. The film captures the claustrophobic and artificial environment of such a community and I refer to that which is experienced by the staff and their families rather than the patients. The rigid conformity and social constraints to which Stella is subject to are convincingly portrayed. The casting and acting I found pretty much faultless, not only from the big players such as Richardson and McKellen but the lesser known members of the cast excel also. Marton Csokas as Edgar, the subject of Stella's attention is particularly good. I was expecting a worthy but slightly dull 'quality' drama but I found the film unexpectedly absorbing, even though I was familiar with the story. The direction and photography should be praised also unobtrusive but allowing the story to unfold at a swift pace so as to hold the viewers attention. Highly recommended.
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