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Elective Affinities

2.5 out of 5 stars 6 customer reviews

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(May 17, 2005)
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$22.95 $22.88

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Editorial Reviews

Early in the 19th century, Edward and Carlotta, in love 20 years ago, find each other and marry. After a year's bliss at his Tuscan villa, Edward begs to invite Otto, an architect and friend, to join them. She has forebodings of disaster, but relents. Otto arrives, and to balance the dynamics, Carlotta invites her teenage godchild Ottilia to join them. Ottilia stirs Edward, Otto and Carlotta are attracted to each other, and these longings produce in Edward and Carlotta a night of passion that results in pregnancy. Otto leaves for Venice, Edward leaves for war, and a baby looking like Otto and Ottilia is born. Can anything be put right? Can the four return to their initial happiness?

Special Features

None.

Product Details

  • Actors: Isabelle Huppert, Fabrizio Bentivoglio, Jean-Hugues Anglade, Marie Gillain, Massimo Popolizio
  • Directors: Paolo Taviani, Vittorio Taviani
  • Writers: Paolo Taviani, Vittorio Taviani, Johann Wolfgang von Goethe
  • Producers: Anna Rita Appolloni, Claudio Amram, Grazia Volpi
  • Format: Color, Dolby, Subtitled, Widescreen, NTSC
  • Language: Italian
  • Subtitles: English
  • Region: Region 1 (U.S. and Canada only. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.66:1
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Rated: NR (Not Rated)
  • Studio: Fox Lorber
  • DVD Release Date: May 17, 2005
  • Run Time: 98 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 2.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (6 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B0007Y8ACE
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #223,868 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)
  • Learn more about "Elective Affinities" on IMDb

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: DVD
'Eeny, meeny, miny, moe is a children's counting rhyme, used to select "it" for games and similar purposes.' Writers/Directors Paolo and Vittorio Taviani have reduced Johann Wolfgang Goethe novel "Die Wahlverwandtschaften" into a somewhat stilted, pseudo-intellectual game and renamed it "Le affinità elettive" (or Elective Affinities). The result if a stodgy and at times only semi-interesting twist on love affairs gone awry.

In the 18th century Countess Carlotta (Isabelle Hupert) encounters her love of 20 years ago, one Baron Eduardo (Jean-Hugues Anglade). They reform their affinity and marry. One year later we find them happily at home in the Baron's Tuscan villa, a home the Baron adores for its geometric beauty (science) and Carlotta loves for its artistic aura (art). Eduardo wants to complete the buildings on their vast land holdings in Tuscany and convinces Carlotta to allow him to invite a famous architect Ottone (Fabrizio Bentivoglio), long a cherished childhood friend, to move in with them to complete the architectural possibilities the site offers. Carlotta has premonitions of bad omens and decides to invite her somewhat neurotic, asocial goddaughter Ottilia (Marie Gillain) to move in with the growing household and to be company to Ottone. After endless talking sprees there develops an affinity between Carlotta and Ottone and an equally strong one between Eduardo and Ottilia. Clandestine encounters become public when Carlotta discovers she is pregnant, the baby is born, looking very much like Ottone!, and a tragedy occurs when Ottilia is caring for the baby: the baby drowns. Ottilia return to her neurotic shell of isolation, the affairs are discovered and tragedies continue. There really is no ending to the story: it just stops.
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Format: VHS Tape
This 1996 Italian-French co-production by the Taviani brothers is like an imported box of eaten chocolates - pretty but empty. Based on a novel by Goethe, the story reads like a folk tale with a weak ending. The title refers to a love quartet in a Tuscan villa where an aristocratic married couple become involved with the husband's best friend and the wife's goddaughter, and their affections are traded. The Taviani's gives us a laboured chalk-board explaination of this equation, but also a sex scene with imagined interchangeable partners. Goethe gets all mystical in having the product of the night born by the wife, but with features of the best friend and goddaughter. The child however gets an unintentional laugh since it's thick red hair makes it resemble Chucky from the Child Play series. The film is hampered by a narration by Giancarlo Giannini and dubbing of the actors, since it appears only Fabrizio Bentivoglio as the best friend is speaking Italian, and the others French. In spite of my disappointment over the dubbing of Huppert in particular, and her being saddled with an unflattering black wig, she manages to invest her wife with humour and pathos. Ironically the dubbing of Jean-Hugues Anglade as the husband and the Taviani's direction make him less mannered than usual, though his scenes of physical injury recall his indulgent death scene in Queen Margo. The opening image of a drowned statue of Venus made me think this would be a story of female suffering, and though this image is never given any resonance, there is a disproportionate guilt about the situation as Huppert feels guilty and Anglade does not. We may already think that any man who is prepared to give up Isabelle Huppert is a fool but when he also displays no grief over the death of a family member, all empathy goes out the window.Read more ›
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Format: DVD
Sometimes anymore than two can upset the delicate balance.When Carlotta and Edouard meet again after a twenty year absence,their love is rekindled,they marry and retire to his inherited Tuscan villa for at least one year of wedded bliss.Edouard,feeling the need to invite his old chum Otto to help with further land development on the estate does so and,unfortunately the rest of the film is doomed to play out what Carlotta's face expresses....the inevitable "I don't think this is such a good idea,Edouard.Three is a crowd!!!".Carlotta invites her step daughter,Otelia, and four people at the Tuscan retreat seems to right the balance again.The rest of the story is so silly that I will not waste yours or my time.

I will basically conclude here with these few thoughts: If this had not been an adaptation of a Goethe novel,a period piece of the 1800's, lavishly shot in breathtaking Tuscany, and starring Isabelle Huppert, I would have NEVER completed this positively insufferable movie.It is that bad! I would have loved to be more generous and genial in my remarks, but this truly was mind-numbingly horrible. Spoken in very rapid Italian (one fights to keep up with the whirlingly fast and long yellow subtitles!) with positively ridiculous closeup (no less) voiceovers for the French Huppert,the acting is as wooden as a nutcracker in a ballet (actually a nutcracker would have been more interesting!) Huppert, who has seen moments of brilliance on screen, follows the same line of tiresome icyness as she portrayed in MADAME BOVARY.The rest of the actors are completely forgettable.

Apart from the cinematography, this film would have been 0 stars.
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