A monarch ordained by God to lead his people. But he is also a man of very human weakness. A man whose vanity threatens to divide the great houses of England and drag his people into a dynastic civil war that will last 100 years.
A fool and his money. In the 1930s, Adam Fenwick-Symes (Stephen Campbell Moore) is part of the English idle class, wanting to marry the flighty Nina Blount (Emily Mortimer). He's a novelist with a one hundred-pound advance for a manuscript confiscated by English customs. He spends the next several years trying to get money and to set a wedding date. He trades in gossip, wins money on wagers, then gives it to a drunken Major (Jim Broadbent), who suggested he bet on a horse in an upcoming race. Adam tries to get the money back, but can't find the Major. Meanwhile, Nina needs security, friends drink too much, and general unhappiness spoils the party. Then war breaks out. Is Adam's bright youth dimming with the fall of an empire?Written by
This movie was produced by Doubting Hall Productions, reflecting Colonel Blount's (Peter O'Toole's) (resident of Doubting Hall) foray into filmmaking in Evelyn Waugh's "Vile Bodies", the book on which this movie was based. See more »
An issue of "The Daily Express" from October 1931 refers to Adolf Hitler as "the new German Chancellor." However, Hitler did not become Chancellor of Germany until January 30, 1933. See more »
Oh Nina, what a lot of parties... Masked parties, Savage parties, Victorian parties, Greek parties, Wild West parties, Circus parties, parties where you have to dress as somebody else, almost naked parties in St. John's Wood, parties in flats and studios and houses and ships and hotels and nightclubs, in swimming baths and windmills. Dances in London so dull. Comic dances in Scotland and disgusting dances in the suburbs. All that succession and repetition of massed humanity. All those vile ...
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The end credits list the actors one or two at a time, showing pictures of their characters in the film along with their names. See more »
Stephen Fry is such a prodigious polymath that it's no surprise what a good fist he's made of his directorial debut. That's not to say it's wholly successful; the characters are so shallow that it is hard to warm to them, although it should be pointed out that this is not necessarily a fault. Indeed, it's refreshing these days to find a film in which characters are not trying to ingratiate themselves. Emily Mortimer is exempt from this observation in any case, as she's just so adorable - and is it just me or does she look a dead spit for the young Mary Steenburgen?
I found not only the camerawork but the lighting extremely gaudy, sometimes offputtingly so. However, Fry is admirably adventurous in some of his camera sweeps, not playing it safe as some inexperienced directors do.
As to the performances, it is true that Simon Callow hams it up quite outrageously (although he still wrung a couple of chuckles out of me), and I found Michael Sheen's uber-camp queen rather wearing, until his scene at the end which I thought he handled well. I know I'm not the first person to say this, but it bears repetition: Fenella Woolgar is a revelation in this film, conveying the insouciance of the upper class effortlessly (and the scene after the "orgy" with the stern family is priceless). James McEvoy was excellent too.
Oh, and by the way, to whomever described Evelyn Waugh as "herself one of the beauties of the age" - you may have been joking, but in case not, Evelyn Waugh was in fact a curmudgeonly man who would no doubt have snorted to hear himself thus described!
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