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.
Set in northern Australia before World War II, an English aristocrat who inherits a sprawling ranch reluctantly pacts with a stock-man in order to protect her new property from a takeover plot. As the pair drive 2,000 head of cattle over unforgiving landscape, they experience the bombing of Darwin, Australia, by Japanese forces firsthand.
Near the end of World War II, 14-year-old Michiel becomes involved with the Resistance after coming to the aid of a wounded British soldier. With the conflict coming to an end, Michiel ... See full summary »
Jamie Campbell Bower,
Yorick van Wageningen
My main positive point is that this was a visually beautiful production from the title typography onwards. It would be hard not to manage effective monochromes in the khaki-and-dirt scenes in the trenches, but the subtle control of a limited color range extended to the scenes of opulence and rustic contentment as well. What else? The women were beautifully cast, especially the two sisters, who really looked alike. And I certainly share the acclamation for Joseph Mawle, who outshone Eddie Redmayne (a fine actor woefully miscast) in the main role.
Nobody has mentioned the dreadful music: a three-note figure repeating endlessly in a vaguely minimalist texture, whether appropriate or not. My main quarrel, however, is with the adaptation of a one of my favorite novels of all time. I remember the book principally for the incredible reality of mining in tunnels under the enemy lines something that interested me a lot since my father was also a lieutenant of sappers at the same place and time. Nothing of this came over in the movie, however, which took place almost entirely in broad, beautifully lit underground corridors.
Faulks constructs his story in three time periods (1910, 1916-19, and 1978), interweaving in clearly delineated sections. I can understand the decision to omit the modern story, but the scriptwriter compensated by alternating the prewar and wartime scenes in short takes that combine to occupy an imaginary space in which nothing seems real. I must say, however, that I got a stronger sense of the prewar romance than I had from the book (and watching on American television, I was spared that anachronistic oral sex). But the main loss from the modern story was the wonderful way in which Faulks ties everything up; the television ending was so limp that I couldn't believe the movie was over.
3 of 10 people found this review helpful.
Was this review helpful to you?