Monday, August 25, 2008

Glam Film Review: Brideshead Revisited

Brideshead Revisited, based on Evelyn Waugh's 1945 novel, is a lush cinematic production complete with English country houses, the carnival in Venice, and a love story between two young people separated by class and religion.

Matthew Goode plays Charles Ryder, an artist from a non-aristocratic background who befriends a rich and charming fellow student, Sebastian Flyte. Sebastian takes him to visit his home, a mansion called Brideshead, filled with priceless artworks that naturally attract the artist's mind. Things get complicated when Charles is introduced to Sebastian's beautiful sister Celia and their controlling, fervently Catholic mother. An intricately woven plot ensues.

Matthew Goode is a tall, dark, and handsome actor in the vein of Linus Roache. He is good, but not stellar — time will tell if he has staying power. The leading lady, Anna Madeley, unfortunately, is lacking in charisma and complexity. This makes problems with the audience's willing suspension of disbelief — hard to be entirely invested when we don't see why Ryder is so crazy for Celia. Emma Thompson is superb as the matriarch of the family — her scenes are few, but they are captivating.

The true gem of the movie, however, is Ben Whishaw as Sebastian. One of the finest, most multi-hued performances I have seen in a good long while. If he doesn't get nominated for an Oscar, I will be surprised. In any case, he has a long and illustrious career in front of him. I'm of a mind to add him to my "actors-I'd-go-see-reading-the-phonebook" category, an honor which few enjoy.

As for the direction and cinematography, the film is solid but never rises to the translucent radiance of its predecessors, like A Room with a View (1985) or The Wings of the Dove (1997). Consequently, I doubt it will quite reach classic status in the years to come. It is also about 20 minutes too long and the ending could have been handled with a surer touch.

All said and done, I would say Brideshead Revisited is worth seeing on the big screen rather than on DVD, because of the sheer scope of the picture. Certainly, it is worth seeing for the performances of Whishaw and Thompson.

Glam Rating: B+

1 comment:

shoeaddict said...

I want to see this. I don't know when I will though. Thanks for the review.