Brideshead Revisited Reviews
Director: Julian Jarrold
Stars: Emma Thompson, Matthew Goode, Hayley Atwell, Ben Whishaw
Based on Evelyn Waugh's 1945 classic British novel, Brideshead Revisited is a poignant story of forbidden love and the loss of innocence set in England prior to the Second World War.
2008 is almost drawing to a close and my next film to watch at the cinema was Brideshead Revisited. A film which was a re-working of a TV series and a novel. Both I haven?t seen, so I went into the film with a relatively open mind. Read many negative reviews, commenting on the lack of plot and one which is slightly constrained in it. To be perfectly honest I seemed to have watched a different film entirely to many people. Brideshead Revisited is a brilliant film indeed and wonderfully made.
The film opens up with Charles?s narration, which is the centre of the film. With beautiful opening in World war 2, giving us an indication of what's to come. Perhaps there could have been more emphasises on Charles?s background as a soldier, little more about his personality after everything at Brideshead and him as an older man. Perhaps that could have given us as audience a little more to work with, in terms of adding meaning to his character and working out what kind of a man he is now. I would also like to have seen more build up to his relationship with Sebastian and Julia, giving us time to understand each character better. But for some unknown reason the fact that wasn?t done works and becomes a very enjoyable film.
Acting, In Brideshead Revisited is perhaps one of the strong points of the film. Emma Thompsons excels as lady Marchmain, with enough repression and awkward expressions to create a great performance. Most likely she?ll be considered for an Oscar in January?s nominations and no doubt receive a BAFA nomination this year. Ben Whishaw was absolutely marvellous to watch as Sebastian Flyte, totally different to roles that I have seen him in and hopefully more to come. I hope he gets some kind of recognition at the BAFTAS this year, perhaps a best actor nomination but he?ll probably most likely get unnoticed. Matthew Goode seems to me to be the perfect actor for the role, who is just an absolute delight to watch on screen. I hope to see more of him in future roles. Also worth mentioning Michael Gambon as Lord Marchaim in a supporting role.
The film draws upon class very slightly. As Sebastian?s family draws in the middle class Charles into an awkward world of the Marchmains? Catholic faith. Charles soon learns of the Marchmain?s faith almost eating many of the films up insider, so to speak. Sebastian?s constant drinking is a reflection of strong Catholic upbringing that he and Sister Julia had. The film depicts the downside of faith that can happen, often not depicted in many films.
More to follow......
Much like last year's Atonement, Brideshead Revisited relies heavily on its countryside palacial scope of its setting. Sumptuous cinematography, costume design and lighting all make for a very beautiful picture.
On the acting side, all are respectable--but it's Emma Thompson who really stands out as the iron-fisted matron of Brideshead. Her disdain oozes with every back-handed compliment or shred of seemingly civil dialogue spoken by her character.
The story of unrequited love-lost is classic and plays out like a typical Merchant Ivory epic--although this technically isn't one.
Definitely worth seeing on the big screen. A solid period piece despite its sad attempt to market it as something more contemporary and along the lines of a cheesy sequel to Cruel Intentions. That it is, most definitely, not.
"Brideshead Revisited" is an engaging, well-photographed and handsomely produced period piece. Surprisingly, the emphasis is not on class divisions, as Charles and Sebastian both have trouble fitting in with their respective families. What it comes down to is religion but not a specific belief system, just the severity of it, for there is a good deal of difference between the Catholicism practiced by Sebastian's mother(Emma Thompson) and the looser version observed in Italy. Even Brideshead cannot escape this influence, as it reminds me of a beautifully decorated mausoleum which would explain why the Flyte children thrive once they are away from it, especially considering Sebastian's attraction to other men. And the Flyte household is not the only inflexible entity, as Charles' atheism can be just as bad as any religious belief.
Note: I should mention that I have not seen the 1981 miniseries of the same name. Maybe when I retire...