Customer Review

27 of 29 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Loved it until I read the book, January 30, 2007
This review is from: Washington Square (DVD)
Honestly, this was one of my favorite films until I read the book, and it brought to light two things that I think the director really messed up on.
1. Catherine Sloper was nowhere near as socially retarded in the book as she was in the movie. In fact, as someone said, in the movie they practically portray her as being borderline mentally challenged. In the books her faults were not as exaggerated, and consisted of her plain looks, dull personality and occasional lack of a witty retort (which happens to all of us save for those annoying few who always have the perfect thing to say). Otherwise I would characterize her, especially in comparison to her flighty aunt and cold-hearted dad, as the only normal one in the house. While everyone else was making the situation with Morris more of a drama than it needed to be, Catherine was taking things as they came and letting them go as they went. She grows from naive girl who adored her callous father to a secure woman.
Also, while in the movie they portrayed her dress sense as evidence of her social ineptitude (the scene where she goes to the party where she meets Morris in that awful fringed thing), in the book it is an admirable eccentricity, and proves that she is not as boring as she seems.
2. While Albert Finney does a great job of capturing Dr. Sloper's callous sarcasm, he doesn't (and again, I think this is the director's fault) really capture the type of psychological game he is playing with his daughter. In the book, Dr. Sloper detachedly views the goings on between his daughter and Morris as a kind of entertainment, a play that he wants to see if he guessed the correct ending to. In return, as Catherine realizes what as asshat her father is (can I say that here?), she begins to play the game with him, telling him when he is near his deathbed that she can't promise she won't marry Morris after he dies (This scene also takes place in the movie, but the way it is acted out you get the sense that Catherine is saying this because she hasn't let Morris go yet - the director hasn't developed the character enough to make the viewer believe she has the intelligence to play her dad's own game).
In terms of praise, the performances by Maggie Smith, Albert Finney and Ben Chaplin are great. To quote another review again, Ben Chaplin really has you wondering what exactly are his character motives (even though deep down you know he wants her money, like the naive Catherine, you continue to want to believe everyone is wrong). I admit I picked up the book in the first place because I wanted to get a better handle on Morris and his intentions! Also, the soundtrack is just gorgeous.
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Showing 1-3 of 3 posts in this discussion
Initial post: Dec 26, 2011 10:45:58 AM PST
Last edited by the author on Dec 26, 2011 11:20:54 AM PST
Such an interesting review, I'm going to read the book. I would never have. This movie kept me confounded as to Morris' intentions too and it was never resolved.

Posted on Feb 5, 2013 2:22:20 AM PST
I thought when Catherine went to see Morris (Maurice) at his sister's house she says to him "Do you only want me w/ my money?", and he makes a remark, (paraphrasing here perhaps) "Would you want me without my looks ?!?"

Entering the fray a bit late, but just saw this post...

In reply to an earlier post on Feb 5, 2013 2:25:28 AM PST
I hope you did read the book, J.T., it is truly one of my favorites...
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