A young woman falls for a man during her vacation in Italy, but social pressures and his passionate nature make a fop the more socially acceptable choice.
Daniel Day-Lewis can play tough, gruff, evil characters like Bill the Butcher and Daniel Plainview and even the sexually voracious Tomas, but can he play an upper-class fop? Yes, he can. The man's range is extraordinary.
This film is everything that is good and bad about a Merchant/Ivory production. It's opulent, classic, and essentially British, but it's also occasionally boring, making the most of the most trifling conflicts. Part of this is film's inability as a medium to make compelling commonplace disagreements in a way that is unique to books, but Ivory's direction, distant shots of four or more characters, accentuates the germane nature of the film's tiny conflicts -- about a room with a view, the settling of accounts, and a writer's fictionalizing of a character's dalliance.
Overall, if you like Merchant/Ivory films, then you've probably already seen this one, and if you don't, this isn't much different from the rest.