Bad Boys for Life
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Campion's version of the novel by Henry James left me with mixed feelings.
The visuals are beautiful. At times the movie can be intense and make you emotionally invested in the characters to the point of being moved. Nicole Kidman's portrayal of Isabel is very convincing, as are Barbara Hershey's Madame Merle and Martin Donovan's Ralph.
The main problem to me was in the nature of Campion's reinterpretation. Since I thought that the best part of the book was its brilliant analysis of the characters' psyche I didn't appreciate too much their strong sexualization, which took away from them their tridimensional depth and also weakened my sympathy.
In the novel Isabel is an independent, strong-willed, clever young woman looking for adventure and intense experiences. She wants to live her life fully, to explore it in reality after she has observed it through other people and books. That's why she doesn't want to be married - above all things she values the freedom only recently gained thanks to her aunt's offer to introduce her in society. However, in the movie the traits that should be essential for Isabel's personality are only talked about briefly in the beginning, but are never shown. Then, they seem to be forgotten completely and Isabel becomes a sexually repressed woman who doesn't know what she wants and subsequently falls victim of Madame Merle and Osmond's plot.
Also, characters such as Lord Warburton, Caspar Goodwood and Henrietta, who are important both for Isabel's life and to define her character, are merely extras, a fact that I found surprising considering how long and slow the movie is.
I came to the conclusion that, had it be more faithful to the novel's nature, which is not erotic but psychological, human, with these visuals and this well chosen cast the movie would have been aesthetically beautiful and also relevant in the content.
One of Kidman's finest performances, with a devilish Malkovich perfectly casted. How 'critics' disliked this movie is beyond me!
The tone of James' classic novel is lost in Campion's new age feminist blubber. Some of the performances are a saving grace with Barbara Hershey as a standout. Nicole Kidman doesn't seem to have Isabel within her grasp and Malkovich's moustache twirling villain is so over the top that he seems ready to tie the audience to a train track at any given moment.
I don't remember the novel well enough to say if this was a good adaptation. I I found the movie interesting though drawn out, with some innovative filming bits in it.
7.4/10, my review: http://wp.me/p1eXom-29D
well crafted & acted period pic.
WOW......WOW.....WOW.....SO SO SO SO SO BAD......MAN THIS IS SUCH AN AWFUL MESSY MESSY MOVIE 2 WATCH, IT IS SO SO SO SO DREADFUL, IT IS SUCH AN AWFUL MOVIE 2 WATCH, IT IS SO SO SO AWFUL MOVIE 2 WATCH, IT IS SO SO SO DREADFUL, IT IS SO SO SO DREADFUL, IT IS SUCH AN AWFUL MOVIE 2 WATCH IT IS SUCH AN AWFUL MESSY MOVIE 2 WATCH.......WARNING THIS MOVIE CONTAINS STROBE LIGHTNING EFFECTS THROUGHOUT THIS MOVIE......MAN THIS IS SUCH AN AWFUL MOVIE 2 WATCH, IT IS SUCH AN AWFUL MESSY MOVIE 2 WATCH, IT IS SUCH AN AWFUL MOVIE 2 WATCH, IT IS SUCH A BAD MOVIE 2 WATCH, JUST AVOID THIS MOVIE AT ALL IT IS SUCH A BAD MOVIE 2 WATCH, JUST AVOID THIS MOVIE AT ALL COSTS IT IS THAT BAD.....JUST DO NOT WATCH THIS MOVIE IT IS SO AWFUL.......ITS GOT A GOOD SOUNDTRACK THROUGHOUT THIS MOVIE.....BUT MAN THIS MOVIE IS SO SO SO AWFUL 2 WATCH....THE BEST THING ABOUT THIS MOVIE IS THE SOUNDTRACK, BUT MAN THIS IS SUCH AN AWFUL MOVIE 2 WATCH......
Slow and lacks energy.
It really seems like it should work, but it really doesn't.
A criminally underrated film that takes commending (and successful) risks in adapting a classic Henry James novel. The film's both heartbreaking and brilliantly acted / directed by Jane Campion, Nicole Kidman and Barbara Hershey. Really... An Incredible work that needs to be rescued and recontextualized from its original (botched) release by the now defunct Gramercy Pictures, a Polygram/Universal company. (Also check Wojciech Kilar's score: it's mindblowingly beautiful.)