Set in 1930s Shanghai, where a blind American diplomat develops a curious relationship with a young Russian refugee who works odd -- and sometimes illicit -- jobs to support members of her dead husband's aristocratic family.
Sympathetic look loosely based on the relationship between tobacco heiress, Doris Duke (1912-1993) - think Duke University - and her shy butler, Bernard Lafferty. The icy and mercurial Duke fires her butler for serving a chilled cantaloupe; the agency sends Lafferty, formerly household staff to Liz Taylor and to Peggy Lee. He's an alcoholic, fresh out of rehab. He gradually becomes Duke's gay alter ego as she romps through life sleeping with young men, making shrewd decisions quickly, managing her fortune and orchids as Lafferty manages her New Jersey estate. With a wine cellar to die for, Bernard falls off the wagon. Can he pull himself together when Doris needs him? Written by
Famed true-crime author, journalist and mover within exclusive society and socialite circles, the late Dominick Dunne, makes a cameo appearance as a member of Doris Duke's advisory board. See more »
When Doris is reading her will, she identifies her city of residence as Somerville, New Jersey. Duke Farms, the site of Duke's residence, is actually in neighboring Hillsborough, New Jersey. Duke Farm now operates as a nature preserve and public park. See more »
Fiennes and Sarandon combine a wonderful chemistry!
As a gay man, I must say that I was captivated by Fiennes brilliant, gentle, and sensitive portrayal of an individual who became Doris Duke's confidante. He was not a gold-digger or a hustler but, rather, a man who had a great deal of love and respect for Doris Duke. I truly believe that he died, just a few short years after Doris Duke's death, because he was heartbroken without her. Like myself, he had no love for money. All he consistently set out to do was to make Doris Duke happy and, in her final years and right up to the end of her life on earth, he successfully achieved that goal by always 'being there' for Doris Duke. Sarandon, like Fiennes, is a top-notch actor. Like fine wine, she gets better and better with age. Was Sarandon too young to play the part of Doris Duke? Absolutely not! She captured Doris Duke's energy, youth, and zeal for life. Like "Emotional Arithmetic," I rate this movie a 9 out of 10. It is captivating. It delivers award-winning performances, and it is definitely a movie worth watching. I've done extensive research on Doris Duke, but the movie brings me much closer to her, and Doris Duke is a person I would like to have known in real life. She was a person filled with positive energy, and Sarandon shows that. Fiennes and Sarandon provide a mirror reflection of the vibrant life of Doris Duke. A gay man can deeply love a woman--but he is drawn, like a magnet, to a person of the same sex. If you will permit me to use a cliché, "a (gay) leopard cannot change his (homosexual) spots," but he has the capacity to love--not in spite of, but because of his "spots." The power to love is greater, and more powerful, than hate.
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