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United Kingdom released, PAL/Region 0 DVD: it WILL NOT play on standard US DVD player. You need multi-region PAL/NTSC DVD player to view it in USA/Canada: LANGUAGES: English ( Dolby Digital Stereo ), SPECIAL FEATURES: Interactive Menu, Scene Access, SYNOPSIS: Robert Allan Ackerman's Passion's Way stars Sela Ward and Timothy Dalton as former lovers who are reunited under less than ideal circumstances. When they find each other again, he is deeply involved with one of her employees. The two women engage in a series of psychological battles in order to defeat each other in this battle of the heart. ...Passion's Way (1999) ( The Reef ) ( Das Riff )
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Charles Darrow (Timothy Dalton) has been reunited with his first love Anna (Sela Ward), now a widow living in France. He plans to propose to her, but on the train receives a telegram telling him not to come. Angry and hurt, he decides to escort pretty Sophy Viner (Alicia Witt), a feisty young companion, around Paris for awhile. Unsurprisingly, they end up in bed, and part amicably.
A few months later, Anna calls Charles to her mother-in-law's chateau, and explains why she cancelled his visit. Their romance is back on track... until Charles sees that Sophy is the new governess, and engaged to Anna's stepson. They try to keep their past fling a secret, but soon Anna learns the truth, and faces a terrible choice.
Wharton was channeling Henry James in this particular book, and "Passion's Way" has the same languid, inward-looking feeling. But it's also a study of tough relationship questions -- should infidelity be forgiven, and at what stage of a possible relationship does it become infidelity? And if someone wrongs you, can you trust them again?
It's also very prettily staged, with beautiful dresses, country picnics, Paris operas, a gorgeous chateau and some exquisite woods. The direction is slow and stately, and just when you think all will be well the plot takes another twist, although the ending leaves something to be desired -- though faithful to the book, it feels like a capitulation.
As a Wharton lead, Dalton is a dud -- Charles is weak and easily upset, and Dalton seems befuddled by how to handle him. Fortunately the women's roles are juicier. On the other hand, Ward is glowingly brilliant as the strong, somewhat lonely woman who finds passion in midlife, and Witt is also good as the poor governess. The scene where these women face off is the best of the movie.
Despite its awful title, "Passion's Way" is a pretty solid -- though flawed -- adaptation of Wharton's novel, and a nice little love triangle with a semi-satisfying finale.
Later he gets a letter from old girlfriend and decides she does still care for him, so goes off to stay with her. To his dismay, he discovers the girl he had an affair with in Paris is now governess to the old girlfriend's daughter, and moreover is engaged to be married to old girlfriend's stepson. He decides the girl doesn't really love the stepson andtakes it upon himself to persuade the girl to break off her engagemnt (what business is it of his, I should like to know, since he doesn't want to marry her himself?). Old girlfriend finds out about the affair with the girl and is upset, but eventually they are reconciled.
And that's about it really. I kept waiting for something interesting to happen, but nothing ever did. I thought maybe the two women would have a catfight over Dalton, or perhaps the stepson would shoot him in a jealous rage, or the girl might set out to prise him away from old girlfriend, but none of these things happened. Everyone is very polite, restrained and civil, and passion is in short supply. By the end of the film I was still waiting for the story to start. Everyone gives good performances and do the best they can with the very dull material, but that isn't much. A good film to watch if you are suffering from insomnia.