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Basil

3.2 out of 5 stars 354 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Big-screen favorites Christian Slater, Jared Leto, and Claire Forlani are the hot stars in this powerful story of passion, betrayal, and revenge! Basil is a sheltered young Englishman willing to risk his fortune and place in society for the friendship of a commoner and love of a strikingly beautiful -- but darkly mysterious -- woman. His newfound happiness is shattered, however, with the devastating discovery that all he holds dear is a cruel deception! With a terrific cast giving truly memorable performances -- you'll be riveted as the intrigue only deepens when Basil faces his family's darkest secrets while coming to terms with his past!

Special Features

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Product Details

  • Actors: Christian Slater, Jared Leto, Stephanie Bagshaw, Crispin Bonham-Carter, Jenny Downham
  • Directors: Radha Bharadwaj
  • Writers: Radha Bharadwaj
  • Format: Multiple Formats, Closed-captioned, Color, NTSC
  • Language: English (Dolby Surround)
  • Region: Region 1 (U.S. and Canada only. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Rated:
    R
    Restricted
  • Studio: Touchstone Home Entertainment
  • DVD Release Date: March 4, 2003
  • Run Time: 95 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 3.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (354 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B00008977H
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #78,751 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)
  • Learn more about "Basil" on IMDb

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: VHS Tape Verified Purchase
Based on Wilkie Collins' 1852 novel, "Basil" stars Jared Leto as the hero of the title. Basil, son of rich and aristcratic father Derek Jacobi, falls in love with beautiful but mystrious girl Julia (Claire Forlani). The problem is, Basil knew that his stern father would never acknowledge the daughter of merchant as his future bride, so in spite of his better judgment and advice from his friend Manion (Christian Slater), he continues his relations a secret until terrible truth is found out.

As is with many Collins' novels, the story is melodramatic and full of surprises, but the film seems to be too full of them. Every five minute you see something happen, which is certainly enjoyable. However, as far as emotional power goes, "Basil" is far from convincing. When the film should be sensual, it fails to be so, leaping to the next scene without raising the tension that should have come from, say, the clandestine meetings between Basil and Julia. There is no thrilling descriptions of ever-changing love and distrust found in works like "Wings of the Dove." The same can be said about the frail father-son relation in Basil's family, which should have been more explored.

My material says the writer/director Radha Bharadwaj (known for Madeleine Stowe film "Closet Land") was very impressed with the original book when she was 12 years old. Born and raised in India, the director clearly is conscious of social class and gender, so the book's thriller part is reduced to certain degree, and instead the contrast between men and women, or traditional aristocracy and new middle-class is stressed.

Her decision is understandable, but I don't know if it was a good idea to adapt the novel that way.
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Format: VHS Tape
Anyone who likes Wilkie Collins (author of "The Moonstone" and "The Woman in White" and a friend to Dickens) knows that he is in store for a Victorian melodrama mystery with all the trimmings. This film definitely had the trimmings -- lush sets and gorgeous scenery, plus two notable acting performances from Christian Slater and Derek Jacobi. However, the writer-director falls down in several areas. First of all the script has a number of 20th Century anachronisms/cliches, i.e., "It makes me feel cheap." The leading man, Jared Leto, is attractive but emotionally lackluster, almost in a trancelike state -- a real problem since he appears in most scenes. Nor is there much chemistry between him and anyone else. Claire Forlani as his love interest is pretty emotionally dead herself, and I strongly suspect the fault is not altogether hers, but the writer-director's. The editing could be sharper, the pacing tighter -- in short, with a few cast changes, a different director, and a few rewrites, this movie might have delivered more of its many promises.
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Format: DVD
I wanted bad to like this movie. I am a huge fan of Slater and Forlani. I saw this movie when it came out (I was 14) and was confused by it and didn't particularly like it, but obviously didn't form a solid opinion of the movie because I rented it again this week to see why I still didn't have an opinion of it. Now I know why.

The "mystery" of the film (spoilers below) has very little to do with the movie itself. I read in another review that this film is about "revenge gone wrong" when in fact this film is about revenge never happening! The movie provides an endless list of questions that are never answered.

Why is Basil so ridiculously gullible and naive to the point where you're just plain embarrassed for him?

How more could the director possibly spoil his own "mystery" with the cut rope near the beginning and Julia's constant hesitations with Basil?

How pathetic is John Manyan's character (big spoiler alert here) to spend his entire life building up to something only to completely give up on it at the last moment for no obvious reason? Nice justice he brought his father.

Why do Basil and his brother keep in no contact whatsoever? They appear to be very close early on, and then when sent away, Basil makes no attempts to reconnect with his brother at all. Clearly he has a desire for a male friend- as this movie takes great pains to point out in his strong and quickly made friendship with John Manyan. Travel is no issue for Basil- he makes excuses to go to London to see Manyan. Why would he not go see his brother?

Can Basil's father be any more one-dimensional and any less convincing as a character?
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Format: VHS Tape
I thought BASIL was an intriguing film - a classical tale of revenge gone wrong. I couldn't figure out why it was rated R though, since there are no sex scenes, and less violence than what is found in most contemporary films.
I didn't find it dull at all, so I guess I will be one of the few people who thoroughly enjoyed this film. Christian Slater did a fine job - as usual, and I found the ending to be sweet.
Had the lead character found someone to love, I would have given the movie 5 stars.
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