Angels and Insects (1995)



Critic Consensus: No consensus yet.

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Movie Info

The chaotic lives of an aristocratic mid-19th century British family are subtly contrasted with the well-ordered lives of insects to exemplify the Darwinian aspects of the British class system in this unusual drama. The esteemed Reverend Alabaster, an elderly intellectual, is having a spiritual crisis after reading Darwin's recently published theories on evolution and natural selection. Alabaster is an insect collector and amateur naturalist, and has given shelter to the homeless and impoverished collector, William, after the young man lost his invaluable Amazon collection in a shipwreck. William is in love with the reverend's eccentric daughter Eugenia, who pays him no mind until her fiance mysteriously kills himself. William then proposes, and she accepts. Later William and the brainy Matty Crompton, a relative of the Alabasters, begin secretly collaborating on a scientific project involving ant behavior. Meanwhile, Eugenia begins bearing William's children. Eventually the reason for the late fiance's demise is revealed and William discovers that there are better things in life than being an aristocrat.
R (nudity, sex, violence)
Drama , Romance
Directed By:
Written By:
In Theaters:
MGM Home Entertainment


Mark Rylance
as William Adamson
Kristin Scott Thomas
as Matty Crompton
Patsy Kensit
as Eugenia Alabaster
Jeremy Kemp
as Sir Harald Alabaster
Annette Badland
as Lady Alabaster
Anna Massey
as Miss Mead
Saskia Wickham
as Rowena Alabaster
Lindsay Thomas
as Lady Alabaster's Maid
Michelle Sylvester
as Margaret Alabaster
Clare Lovell
as Elaine Alabaster
Claire Brown
as Child Servant
Jenny Lovell
as Edith Alabaster
Graham Glover
as Pallbearer
Oona Haas
as Alice Alabaster
Angus Hodder
as Guy Alabaster
Naomi Gudge
as Martha
John Jenkins
as Ralph Blackwood
John Veasey
as Arthur
Jack Turney
as Newborn Twin
Elizabeth Turney
as Newborn Twin
Nicky Turney
as Wet Nurse
Alice Maitland
as Six-month-old Twin
Hannah Maitland
as Six-month-old Twin
Vita Haas
as Robert Edgar (age 1)
Pam Smitham
as Midwife
Brett Harris
as Stable Lad
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Critic Reviews for Angels and Insects

All Critics (21) | Top Critics (6)

No matter what you think this adaptation of A.S. Byatt's novella Morpho Eugenia sounds like, it's better and certainly kinkier than your best parlor-game guess.

December 31, 1999
USA Today
Top Critic

A notch above the dry, analystic and tedious films that Philip Haas usually makes, largely due to acting of Kristin Scott Thomas and explicit sexuality.

Full Review… | August 9, 2007

Possibly the most boring film about incest ever.

May 23, 2003

Angels & Insects is a piercing drama about the mysteries of science and human passion.

Full Review… | August 21, 2002
Spirituality and Practice

I enjoyed it, even if it creeped me out quite a bit.

Full Review… | June 10, 2002
Goatdog's Movies

The problem with the film, was that it was tedious and had no emotional oomph.

Full Review… | December 31, 1999
Ozus' World Movie Reviews

Audience Reviews for Angels and Insects

Very well done period piece with surprising twists & turns, drama & superb acting. Both men & women will enjoy it.

Cora Flaharty
Cora Flaharty

Beautiful scenery of the English countryside, a captivating young woman with a dark secret, an innocent young man captivated by the trappings of wealth and "proper" society all come together in this terrific film. The plot is amply described here and elsewhere, so I won't bore you with the details. Patsy Kensit is radiant as the beautiful, cosseted elder sister Eugenia, who harbors a secret addiction that nearly destroys the man who at one time worshiped her great beauty and thought himself unworthy of her affections. Kristen Scott Thomas quietly simmered as the intelligent, artistically talented children's tutor, Matty, who is mainly unnoticed within the household, but whose finely honed powers of observation serve her well. Mark Rylance turned in a carefully nuanced performance as the young biologist, William Adamson, who finds himself the beneficiary of the Alabaster family's largess and blissfully marries Eugenia, only to discover the deception that has been played out under his nose. And Douglas Henshall is perfect as a loutish brute, Eugenia's brother, Edgar. Edgar fancies himself as the pinnacle of human breeding and is quite concerned with maintaining the purity of the bloodlines of his horses and of his family. He is also a man ruled by his passions who satisfies his desires whenever and wherever it pleases him and has nothing but contempt for his ill-bred brother-in-law. The characters are fully fleshed by the script, the passion on screen is palpable, and the conflicts within the household simmer and bubble just below the surface. In that way, it is much like an ant colony, the study of which forms the focal point of the story and becomes the way out for young William and for Matty as well. Matty at one point refers to the members of the household who are invisible to the main inhabitants but nonetheless wield enormous power because of their anonymity. The house decides what is revealed and what is to remain hidden.

Mark Abell
Mark Abell

Super Reviewer

Not a movie I would recommend, but if you have nothing to do on a saturday evening and it's on TV.. Why not? (The dresses are hideous).

Saskia D.
Saskia D.

Super Reviewer

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