Adam Verver, a US billionaire in London, dotes on daughter Maggie, an innocent abroad. An impecunious Italian, Prince Amerigo, marries her even though her best friend, Charlotte Stant, an alabaster beauty with brains, no money, and a practical and romantic nature, is his lover. She and Amerigo keep it secret from Maggie that they know each other, so Maggie interests her widowed father in Charlotte, who is happy with the match because she wants to be close to Amerigo. Charlotte desires him, the lovers risk discovery, Amerigo longs for Italy, Maggie wants to spare her father pain, and Adam wants to return to America to build a museum. Amidst lies and artifice, what fate awaits adulterers?Written by
The "Raphael drawings" that Adam Verver shows Charlotte are obvious imitations. The figures are outlined with dark, bold lines, which was not the style of Raphael or, indeed, any of his contemporaries. See more »
What is it you want from me?
I want a happiness without a hole in it! I want the bowl without the crack!
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grateful thanks to Lord Tollemache and family; Frances, Duchess of Rutland; The Duke of Northumberland See more »
The best Merchant Ivory so far, and ideal film material.
The story is engrossing and perceptive, dealing with human relationships in all their forms. It takes a hard and frank look at the motivation behind several different relationships, which varies from selfishness, loneliness and boredom to love of the deepest kind. The film makes you wonder how and why we choose our friends.
Personally, I found the acting and direction superb, apart from a couple of flat speeches by Kate Beckinsale (whose accent also varied quite a bit). Unfortunately one of these comes in the scene where her character is introduced, which may have put some people off this film at an early stage (there are a lot of negative comments on here!). The rest of the cast are superb, especially Uma Thurman who is mastering the art of conveying a lot of meaning with just a single look. Tension builds up throughout and is skillfully maintained right until the end.
It is, of course, a film that you need to see on a big screen as part of the point of a Merchant Ivory production is the exquisite detail that goes into getting the costumes and locations just right. Even more so than in their past productions, a huge amount of effort has been spent here.
One thing I found is that the characters felt fairly isolated: most of the time, you just saw the leading characters in a scene on their own and, apart from a couple of party scenes, there was not much attempt to show the society in which they lived; also there were few exterior shots in the cities. It may be that that was quite deliberate, to show that these incredibly wealthy people lived very insular lives.
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