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The Golden Bowl

3.5 out of 5 stars 150 customer reviews

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(Feb 19, 2004)
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Editorial Reviews

Product Description

Kate Beckinsale, Nick Nolte, Uma Thurman, Jeremy Northam. Love and deceit filter through this Henry James novel with great passion as a widowed American expatriate, traveling with his daughter in England and Italy, pushes her to marry a prince while his own attentions are focused on the prince's former lover. 2000/color/131 mn/R/widescreen.

Based on the Henry James novel, The Golden Bowl earns a regal place in the long line of lavish Ismail Merchant and James Ivory productions casting spectacular mise en scène in the lead role. The crumbling Italian palazzo that opens the film and the magnificent English country houses that encase the unfolding drama play, as always, an intrinsic part in the ruptured psyche of whatever gentry Merchant and Ivory have elected to pursue. In this case, divided attention is paid to erstwhile glories and turn-of-the-century ambitions. Impoverished Italian prince Amerigo (Jeremy Northam) is to marry heiress Maggie Verver (Kate Beckinsale), school friend of Charlotte (Uma Thurman), who in turn weds American industrialist and art collector Adam Verver (Nick Nolte), Maggie's father. Amerigo and Charlotte, having previously been lovers, are helpless to resist an adulterous affair. A study of life's covetous designs failing to imitate the perceived perfections of art, The Golden Bowl is likewise flawed but alluring. --Fionn Meade

Special Features


Product Details

  • Actors: Kate Beckinsale, Uma Thurman, Anjelica Huston, Nick Nolte, Jeremy Northam
  • Directors: James Ivory
  • Writers: Henry James, Ruth Prawer Jhabvala
  • Producers: Ismail Merchant
  • Format: Multiple Formats, Anamorphic, Closed-captioned, Color, Widescreen, Subtitled, NTSC
  • Language: English (Dolby Digital 5.1), French (Unknown)
  • Subtitles: English, Spanish
  • Region: Region 1 (U.S. and Canada only. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Aspect Ratio: 2.35:1
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Rated:
  • Studio: Lionsgate
  • DVD Release Date: February 19, 2004
  • Run Time: 130 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 3.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (150 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B00005OBAL
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #28,264 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)
  • Learn more about "The Golden Bowl" on IMDb

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By Lev Raphael on September 24, 2004
Format: DVD Verified Purchase
I'm a bit puzzled by all the hostile comments on this movie.

I've read The Golden Bowl five times, at least. I have also seen most film and TV adaptations of James novels and novellas done since the 1970s and this one stands up very well under the double test: is it faithful to the book's spirit, is it a good film?

I loved this movie, have seen it twice and given it as a gift. I found it perfectly cast, filmed, and paced. TGB is a long dense intensely internal book but it has been faithfully rendered by a screenwriter who boldly brought the violence and threat at the core of the book forward in a fascinating sort of prologue, and made one of the book's most famous images, the Pagoda, part of a nightmare. Each time I see these sections I admire her ingenuity.

Uma Thurman broke my heart as the passionate, lonely, sensual Europeanized American who cannot have what she wants when she wants it. Yes, the part was played differently by Gayle Hunnicutt in the estimable British TV version, but so what? Thurman works because she makes it so clear how much more she wants Amerigo than the opposite and her verbal rebellion at one point is explosive (in a Jamesian way, of course).

Jeremy Northam is suitably lordly and devilishly handsome. His accent sounds just right to me, having been around Europeans who learned English from English speakers: the mix is sometimes inconsistent though charming.

Kate Beckinsale is just right as the limited innocent whose innocence is a kind of cruelty and watching her grow up, make the sacrifices she needs to while fighting through the pain of terrible awareness was haunting. Nick Nolte was sublime as the phlegmatic wealthy collector. You feel the roughness behind his suavity and the world-weariness.
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Unlike other reviewers, I haven't read _The Golden Bowl_ and I hate Henry James. Perhaps that's why I adored this film. Visually, it is even more sumptuous than most Merchant and Ivory films. But what makes the movie more than just a pretty package is Jeremy Northam, who in addition to being stunningly handsome as ever, delivers a performance of depth and nuance. Along with his wonderful roles in _Emma_ and _The Winslow Boy_, the part of Amerigo should help establish Northam as one of the best actors around, up there in my mind with Kenneth Branagh and . . . well I can't think of many others as good. Kate Beckinsale is also astonishing in this film, doing a much better job of playing an ingenue who finds unknown inner strength in a time of need than Winona Ryder did in _The Age of Innocence_. And the ever-reliable Nick Nolte delivers a believable, complex performance. The only thing that made this film a four-star rather than five-star film in my book was the appalling performance of Uma Thurman, who is so bad that at the climax of the film, when she delivers what should be the most poignant line of the movie, I actually burst out laughing in the theatre (very embarrassing). I can't think why directors haven't noticed that Ms. Thurman is these days merely a pretty face, but the rest of the cast and the production was stellar, and the story gripped my interest throughout.
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To do this magnificent film justice, I can only quote from Kevin Thomas' review in the Los Angeles Times: " "The Golden Bowl" is yet another Merchant Ivory triumph, with impeccable performances and equally flawless, grand period settings. As in previous films, the venerable team makes the past as immediate and vital as the present, summoning a vanquished world in such detail and perception that it is possible to see ourselves in people and places that would seem far removed."
As worthy of Henry James, the dialog of the screen adaptation is brilliant: the intrigue and suspense are developed by the clever double entendres as the characters eloquently let one another know they are aware of the duplicity in their relationships while never speaking overtly of their suspicions. Nick Nolte displays impressive, nuanced subtlety in his acting; Uma Thurman, as always, is elegant and incandescent, her acting perfection.
The settings in Italian castles and British grand estates alone are worth a trip to the theater; the costumes are opulent and beautifully designed. This film held our undivided attention from the first moment to the end. If you like films of this genre, do not miss it. "The Golden Bowl" is one of the best movies we have seen in many years, worthy of the top Oscar nominations.
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Format: DVD
I found this movie fascinating. I have not read the book, though I have read much of James. In the movie, at least, it is not at all clear that Amerigo would rather be with Charlotte, and is marrying Maggie only for the money. It seems instead that he is marrying Maggie in hopes of a happy life (which yes, includes money) but that he allows Charlotte to think he still loves her so she can save face. Charlotte chases Amerigo all through the movie and though she finally manages to seduce him, it's true what the Colonel says to his wife, that he doesn't really care for her. He admires her and is attracted to her but he doesn't love her.
In contrast, he clearly does love Maggie and his son. He doesn't admire her until he first hears her say she doesn't like someone; at that moment she becomes more interesting to him, and when she confronts him, he falls in love with her. Somehow this all made perfect sense to me. In some way by Maggie pretending not to see she also let him think she didn't care.
When he realizes what his choices are, there is simply no contest.
It didn't seem to me that Maggie was manipulative in getting her father to take Charlotte away, although I suppose she was-- but it also was kind.
Anyway, maybe it's just that I saw this after the Sopranos finale (!) but I thought this was one of the most nuanced depictions of the levels in human relationships, particularly in marriage, that I've ever seen captured on film.
it's also beautiful to look at. A fascinating film in every respect.
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