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In the 1930s Ricky Masters, an English businessman, marries Madeleine, a fine match socially, but the cultured aesthete is more and more attracted to her sister Dinah, a 'Bohemian' painter, and as they spend time together their affair becomes physical, even all the way; yet when she gets pregnant they decide to leave his marriage intact. He raises his son with Madeleine, who tells him only in 1946 that she knew after he had a car accident during a 'business trip' to southern France that caused Dinah to loose her unborn daughter; now Ricky wants to leave Madeleine, but she refuses a divorce; after a time in hospital he is told Dinah chose to move back to France without him while she's really living in London, still not the last twist of the drama...Written by
this is the second time that i have seen this movie and it definitely lives up to repeated viewings. at heart the story maybe about an illicit affair of forbidden love, but in reality it seems much more. It lays bare the consequences of the worst betrayals of trust without apportioning blame. all three characters, Madeleine, Dinah and Ricky, are left unsatisfied and the pain that they feel makes the film challenging viewing - it is simply so sad. what i liked most about the story is its time frame, as we weave through fifteen odd years and see the story, or rather the affair through the different perspective of time - it is such a clever technique because our sympathies never rest- we switch allegiance constantly and recognise that for these three people there could be no happy resolution.
there is so much else to love about this film, i loved the way the large elegant house, appeared to take on the appearance of Madeleine's state of mind - all bright and happy in the beginning and then grey and sterile at the end.
the film does have a fault i would say, though. which is why i have given it 8. i do not like Helena Bonham carters performance. it was partly because both Olivia Williams and Paul Bettany gave such wonderful performances that hers appears forced and insincere. i think that we are meant to like Dinah and see her as colourful and vital - but i didn't believe in her portrayal. she is remarkable at expressing anguish and truly has a beautiful voice when reciting Blake, but i found her garish costumes and brazen comments, unconvincing and unnatural. she grated on me because i really needed to believe that this woman was worthy of Ricky's obsessional love and i didn't. having said that i still recommend this movie, if only really because of its deep and intelligent exploration of the different types of love.
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