Restoration is one of the great overlooked gems of the 1990's. This movie is beautifully shot and competently directed. It is based closely on the original novel, and also reminds me of some of the more juicy excerpts from Samuel Pepys Diary. The use of real historical locations in Britain is inspired, for instance, the Fire of London and Cheapside market scenes were shot at Caerphilly Castle, the 13th-century moat doubling for the 17th-century Thames! Robert Downey gives a highly respectable performance as Merivel (and has an excellent British accent), but Meg Ryan is totally mis-cast, seeming very lost in some scenes. Sam Niell, I think, is probably the best casting for a British Monarch since Alec Guiness as Charles the First in Cromwell, and Dudley Sutton as James the First in Orlando. One of the best performances, however, comes from David Thewlis in support. His moving scenes with Downey at Tretower Court steal the movie. I worked as an extra on the movie, and some scenes for Pierce Brosnan's 'Crusoe' were shot back to back on the Cheapside market set. That movie has still to be released. 'Restoration' was filmed during 1994, and was delayed for release amid rumours of re-shooting scenes with Meg Ryan, and probable cold feet after the box-office difficulties with 'The Red Letter'.
This movie has not been given the credits it truly deserves, and is an excellent illustration of Court life and marriage politics during the reign of Britain's sexiest Monarch!