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Showing 1-10 of 11 reviews(Verified Purchases). See all 25 reviews
on December 6, 2009
I saw this movie in a theatre 25 years ago, shortly after having read Henry James' novel, and I remember how impressed I was not only by the movie's accuracy, delicacy, splendour and faithfulness to the novel, but also by the fact that it manages to "repair" some shortcomings of Henry James' early novel.

I have been longing to watch it again ever since, so I eventually bought the DVD. Redescovering it, I was surprised by its incredible freshness and newness, after so many years. It is, indeed, a superb adaptation of James' novel, and one of the most interesting Ivory/Merchant film.

The October New England landscapes are breathtaking, costumes have authenticity, dialogues are spontaneous, and the script features without effort or ostentation the differences between the European and the American mentalities and behaviours; the atmosphere is as genuine as it can be rendered in a movie.

Acting is exceptional; the gradual symptoms of love in the main characters (the two young Americans and their European cousins) are incredibly well expressed: we witness their delight, astonishment, fever, torments, doubts, pain. But far from being graphically shown, the feelings are mostly suggested, so we guess, beyond the self-imposed discretion and reserve, the strong dilemmas and the inner fights. The real drama and utter changes in the characters' lives are like whirlpools under the perfectly calm surface of a lake. This contributes to the (false) impression of slowness or stagnation of the movie--and this, in spite of the multitude of events that occur so naturally, "comme si de rien n'était".

The characters' strong individuality is well depicted, the Wentworths naivety and simplicity is touching, Eugenia's (Lee Remick--amazing!) sophistication is truthful. The ending (one marriage and one painful separation, the latter because of the beautiful European woman's "decadence") also represents a great achievement in the movie: managing to avoid any moralizing preach (or inference), the filmmakers offer an elusive, smooth, easily-flowing, almost smiling ending.

I strongly recommend this movie to anyone who searches aesthetic pleasure, subtle acting and also loves Henry James.
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This beautiful adaptation of the Henry James novel of the same name is an early Ivory/Merchant film. It is beautifully shot with shimmering pastoral scenes that bring to mind some wonderful impressionist paintings. The story is likewise somewhat impressionistic and centered around two brother and sister expatriates, Eugenia and Felix Young, who come from Europe to visit their wealthy American half cousins, the Wentworths, in the very bucolic, very Yankee, suburban environs of Boston in the late nineteenth century.
The Wentworths are a rather strait-laced, prim and proper, wealthy family, whose head is the dour and mistrustful old Mr. Wentworth (Wesley Addy). The family welcomes their European cousins with some trepidation and reservation, as they seem positively bohemian to them. The one exception is Gertrude Wentworth (Lisa Eichhorn) who gravitates towards her newly found, sophisticated relatives. As a flower turns to the sun, Gertrude turns to her cousins to brighten her otherwise dull and narrow world. She is not disappointed.
Eugenia (Lee Remick) proclaims to be the Baroness Munster, an unhappily married woman on the brink of divorce. Her charming brother, Felix (Tim Woodward), is a rather artistic fellow with no foreseeable prospects. Together they take the Wentworths by storm and turn their previously well ordered, somewhat provincial world, upside down. This is a slow moving film that allows the story to unfold at its own, unhurried pace.
As Eugenia and Felix leisurely weave themselves into the fabric of the Wentworths' lives, changes ensue. During their stay, a romance develops between Felix and Gertrude. Her rebuffed suitor, Mr. Brand (Norman Snow), ends up finding solace in the arms of Charlotte, Gertrude's more eminently suited sister. Eugenia, however, who has set about to snare the Wentworths' attractive and wealthy neighbor, Robert Acton (Robin Ellis), is in for a very rude awakening.
Lee Remick, a vastly underrated actress, is delightful as the beautiful and predatory Eugenia. Tim Woodward is boyishly charming as Felix, the cousin who sweeps Gertrude off her feet. Robin Ellis is excellent as the thoughtful Robert Acton, the man who stands on the brink of a major life changing decision. Wesley Addy is very good as the suspicious Wentworth patriarch. Lisa Eichhorn's portrayal of Gertrude, however, is flat, as if she were performing in the throes of a zen like trance. Yet, it does not detract unduly from the overall quality of the film.
This is a film that those who love period pieces will enjoy. If you are not a period piece lover, however, deduct one star from my review and proceed at your own risk.
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on March 10, 2014
Small intimate look at restrictive life in 19th century New England. Lives of quiet desperation and living life as how things have to be when confronted with a life living outside the box. Lee Remick is often overlooked by her good looks as a fine actress and the supporting cast lives up to her. Robin Ellis shows an austere controlled counter balance to her. Arrived in fine shape from the seller, simple packaging and fast service.
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on June 23, 2013
I grew up in New England, so first of all, visually it was a love feast for the eyes, and ... I love this film. To see Lee Remick again onscreen, was also a visual treat, as she is radiantly beautiful and along with the rest of the cast, gives a wonderful performance.
This DVD Edition, co-produced with Criterion, looks amazing, and sounds great too., as they have worked putting out top quality. Classy film. Classy edition.
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on December 19, 2012
Although I am glad to finally see this film, it is lovely and well cast (love seeing the late Lee Remick), it is not a film I'd likely view more than once. I can't recall what I paid for it, but I hope it wasn't much. I will pass it on to friends to enjoy.
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on November 20, 2013
A Merchant/ Ivory film that I had never seen( which was unusual as they are two of my favorites.)
Visually stunning and wonderful storyline based on the novel by Henry James.
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on February 18, 2011
Lee Remick was superb in this movie. The photography was also spectacular indicating change of season and
inside characterizations. The old world and the New World with customs and manners was well represented.
It was fun to see this movie.
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on February 8, 2013
I am a fan of Merhant Ivory movies and this movie is great. Great storytelling capturing the era wonderfully. Watch it.
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on July 22, 2013
Lee Remick carries the film. A bit underacted for my taste. Characters could have been fleshed out more. Very slow in some scenes.
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on September 18, 2007
This review was written by my wife, Melanie.

The best about this film is the glorious setting in a New England autumn when the colors of the trees are their most vivid. Interestingly, as revealed in an interview with Merchant/Ivory included on the DVD, the fall setting was not planned, but fortunately occurred because of production delays. The second best about the film is Lee Remick, who turns in a first-rate performance as the Countess Eugenia.

The script has problems, the main criticism being that some of the characters are not believable, such as the puritanical patriarch of the Wentworth family. He is the typical filmmaker's depiction of religious persons, especially devout Christians--stuffy, intolerant, anti-intellectual and foolish. This kind of silly sterotype detracts from the film's merits. Mr. Wentworth is reduced to cardboard caricature, when he could have so easily been a real, flesh-and-blood individual. This character treatment insults viewer intelligence, and is a weakness with some of the period Ivory/Merchant productions. While they are richly creative as far as the visual goes (magnificent locations, sumptuous costumes and great photography), they don't always give the audience the same quality when it comes to screenwriting and fleshing out the characters.
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