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For someone familiar with the large, intricate, subtly tinted canvases of Waugh's book and the phenomenal TV-series, this is like seeing a hasty copy executed in crude strokes and garish colours. Within 20 minutes from the start Charles and Sebastian aren't just friends, they actually appear to be lovers. The gay thing is plastered on way too thick and goes far beyond anything suggested by Waugh. The way the storyline is distorted, it makes it seems as if Sebastian starts drinking out of frustration over Charles's rejection of him in favour of his sister Julia. This is a result of the extreme conflation of elements from Waugh's story, which uproots its refined psychological dynamics. Indeed, subtlety is nowhere to be found; the Flytes in this movie are a pretty vulgar bunch, and Sebastian's Oxford circle too has none of the aristocratic manners and sophisticated wit we would expect from them.Read more ›
Unfortunately the need to compress the story distorts much of what Evelyn Waugh intended. By making the love affairs between Charles Ryder and Sebastian and Julia Flyte occur nearly simultaneously instead of Charles first loving Sebastian and then years later falling in love with Julia, Waugh's message of spiritual and emotional growth is blunted. More troubling is the lack of positive emphasis on Christianity and Roman Catholicism. Whereas in the book and the mini-series Lady Marchmain is a tragic, sympathetic figure, the film emphasizes her hauteur and coldness. This has larger immplications than just a difference in interpretation, since Lady Marchmain in large part represents the Church. Furthermore, I am especially disappointed by the ending. In the book and mini-series we see an affirmation of both new and enduring faith, while the film is far more equivocal.
Despite these reservations, I do value this film and intend to watch it many times. While Waugh himself would be horrified over some of the modifications (he would call them distortions), this new interpretation of his work is beautiful in its own right, and its ambiguities are a challenge which allows us to re-examine our own beliefs.
The underlying issues of faith and religious up-bringing are totally lost, spun into a broad statement about Catholicism rather then its personal meaning to individual lives. The central message of the book has been stripped to a minor secondary theme. The faith journey is lost.
Charles' relationship with Sebastian is dumbed down to mere sexual experimentation rather then human bond. This Charles would never carry his feelings for Sebastian throughout his life. Without the former, you cannot truly grasp the latter relationship with Julia. The relationships are separate not concurrent, they are paths on his journey to faith. Sadly the desire and depth of Charles and Julia's relationship, so strongly captured in the mini-series "Orphans of the Storm" episode, is totally lost here. In this, their reunion seems more like a 3AM quickie.
Take the $20 you planned on spending for this, add another $20 and buy the mini-series instead. The larger investment returns so much more....so much more!
Most Recent Customer Reviews
This is a wonderful movie. I didn't think anything could top the mini-series but this movie is just magnificent. The actors are perfectly cast and the production is flawless.Published 9 days ago by TerTer
good actors, good story, but not close enough, true enough, to the story and religious theme of the book. Read morePublished 2 months ago by cradlecatholic
Knew the story and previous version and still enjoyed the themes. Love Emma Thompson and the other brits. Great sets.Published 2 months ago by Jacqueline Smith