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Beautiful coastal locations and quality actors, but dull drama
Although "The Pavilion" had (very) limited theatrical release outside the USA in 2004-2005, it's actually copyrighted 1999 when, as far as I can tell, it was released to video in America. The story, based on Robert Louis Stevenson's short story, takes place around the time of the Civil War and involves a handful of characters and a white house (a "pavilion") on the coast of South Carolina. The four main characters are a father and his daughter (Richard Chamberlain and Patsy Kensit) and two mysterious men (Craig Sheffer and Daniel Riordan) who are in contention with each other. Peripheral characters are played by Dwight Ewell and Bianca Lawson, amongst a couple others.
Whilst the actors are fine and the Bald Eagle Island, NC, locations are magnificent, this is a decidedly low-budget film that didn't deserve any type of theatrical release, except art houses. Some classify it as a Western, but this isn't the case; it's a drama/mystery that takes place largely in 1865 on the Carolina coast. Outside of the time period and hats there are no Western staples of which to speak.
I don't like to give negative or even mediocre reviews to independent movies because I know the time and money it takes to create even a small film like this. Aside from the few notable actors, the end credits reveal that scores of people were involved in the making of "The Pavilion." In other words, a lot of time, money and effort went into this work. This is great, but you HAVE to tell an interesting story with characters that grab & maintain your attention one way or another. Unfortunately, this isn't the case here. I love independent films, as well as dramas, and I'm sure Stevenson's original story is great (why else would they try to make it into a full-length motion picture?), but the filmmakers needed to take the time to tweak the story in order to make it work in the format of a feature film. It's called cinematic adaptation. Another negative is the contrived revelation at the climax, which contradicts what we were led to believe up to that point and leaves a sour taste.
Still, I loved the stunning barrier island locations and Patsy Kensit is easy on the eyes, plus there are a couple of notable parts, albeit rather insignificant. For instance, the three men are at the dinner table and Clara (Patsy) walks in with this beautiful white dress whereupon the men - almost speechless with awe -- rise from their seats in her honor.
The film runs 94 minutes.
GRADE: D+ or C-
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