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The Draughtsman's Contract

The Draughtsman's Contract (1982)


No Score Yet...

Average Rating: N/A
Critic Reviews: 4
Fresh: 4 | Rotten: 0



liked it
Average Rating: 3.9/5
User Ratings: 4,959

My Rating

Movie Info

Peter Greenaway's first fiction feature (after the mock-documentary The Falls) made him immediately famous and was named one of the most original films of the 1980s by British critics. The action is set in the director's beloved 17th century. Ambitious young artist Mr. Neville (Anthony Higgins) is invited by Mrs. Herbert (Janet Suzman) to make 12 elaborate sketches of her estate. Besides money, the contract includes sexual favors that Mrs. Herbert will offer to the draughtsman in the absence of


Drama, Comedy

Peter Greenaway

Dec 14, 1999

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All Critics (24) | Top Critics (7) | Fresh (18) | Rotten (0) | DVD (7)

Artificial in the extreme, it may nevertheless be Greenaway's most naturalistic and easygoing film.

July 5, 2007 Full Review Source: Village Voice
Village Voice
Top Critic IconTop Critic

It shows the director at his best and most playful, and it's a strange delight.

February 21, 2008 Full Review Source: Combustible Celluloid
Combustible Celluloid

A puzzle book for intellectual aesthetes.

January 22, 2008 Full Review Source: Slant Magazine
Slant Magazine

One of the best, most original and diabolical films to come out of England.

August 22, 2007 Full Review Source: Ozus' World Movie Reviews
Ozus' World Movie Reviews

ravishingly beautiful

April 6, 2005
Shadows on the Wall

Greenaway ploughs the familiar landscape of the murder mystery, but plants in it new, exotic fruits all of his own.

February 13, 2004 Full Review Source: Movie Gazette

The Draughtsman's Contract is a thoroughly entertaining murder mystery set in 17th century England.

February 4, 2004 Full Review Source: Spirituality and Practice
Spirituality and Practice

Far from Greenaway's best work. Very far.

January 16, 2003
Mountain Xpress (Asheville, NC)

This isn't your standard costume drama fare.

February 28, 2002 Full Review Source: Goatdog's Movies
Goatdog's Movies

Audience Reviews for The Draughtsman's Contract

There are a lot of good things I can say about this film. The costumes and setting are gorgeous, and all of the performances are great - most of all Anthony Higgins, who is not only masterful in his role but wears Restoration costume as if he'd been born to do so. However, despite enjoying the first two thirds of the film I can't say I was especially enamoured of the ending section, possibly because much of it went over my head. Maybe I'll watch it again sometime and see if I understand it better.
July 3, 2009

Super Reviewer

This viewer obviously lacked the historical knowledge or the cinemaphile's love of abstract symbolism to appreciate this. The film was far too obscure for my tastes. A sketch artist agrees to a personal services contract with an aristocrat (sort of a "friends with benefits" arrangement) and finds himself set up to take the fall for a murder. A most unpleasant affair that was not sweetened in any way. No skin and little bedroom action of the most chaste variety. The costumes were lavish, the wigs extravagant, the dialog witty, but the story was nearly incomprehensible to this poor viewer. A whodunit in which no one knows, nor do they seem to care. Or maybe it is that everyone in the story knows, but still no one cares. This viewer is beyond caring. Mr Neville will still take the fall. And what was the purpose of the movable statue? Who knows? Another time waster one should stay away from unless in possession of the requisite knowledge to appreciate the subtleties of the 17th century costume drama with an artsy flair.
November 11, 2008
Mark Abell

Super Reviewer

Seductive cinematic puzzle, visually rich with deception, both of fact and motive, permeating the texture. Performances are uniformly excellent, while the historical setting is amongst the most vivid committed to film. Michael Nyman's beautifully crafted score contributes greatly.
February 1, 2009
hawk ledge

Super Reviewer

An intelligent and witty film which really requires several viewings to work everything out. The costumes are gloriously over the top, and the Michael Nyman soundtrack fits brilliantly. Overlooked and misunderstood but worth seeing.
July 16, 2008
Emily B.

Super Reviewer

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