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View All The House of the Spirits News
All Critics (37)
| Top Critics (16)
| Fresh (11)
| Rotten (26)
The greatest actors in the world can't overcome a script that boils everything down to the Esperanto of cliche.
The thing works in its goofy way, mainly because Bille August is a man of apparently dauntless conviction. He has written and directed every scene with serene authority.
The flaws aren't fatal. The beauty and brilliance that might have been, don't preclude the quality and bravery that exist on the screen.
The House of the Spirits is like Gone With the Wind with the fun and excitement replaced by lofty. All that's left is the wind.
How can an accomplished director take a great novel, the best actors working and the finest technicians available and make a film so... bland? It's a puzzlement.
Inert from its opening moments to its too-long-delayed close, this lackluster production is an example of international filmmaking at its least attractive, and a misstep in the careers of pretty much everyone involved.
Nearly every magic detail, many key characters and half a generation has been sacrificed to clarify the plot. But so much has been cut away that only the skeleton of the story remains.
If The House of the Spirits fails to reinvent its traditional form as The Piano did, it still redresses Hollywood's usual sexual politics -- and provides an exotic wallow.
It's also a wretched paradox: a big budget, star-driven art film whose very elements subvert its ambitions and turn it into the thing it least wants to be -- a listless '50s-style Hollywood melodrama.
This isn't just a bad movie -- it's hugely, grandiosely, pompously bad.
Similar epics are made with more conviction and less pretension on daytime TV.
The film version stresses political intrigue and revolutionary violence at The expense of the anything-goes dreaminess that gives the book its most memorable moments. A stellar cast doesn't help much.
Shit film, good book.
Even a high-powered cast cannot save this sketchy depiction of 70 years in the history of an unnamed country (reportedly Chile) as seen by three generations of aristocracy. Not quite an all-out embarrassment, but close.
Wow. I get the feeling the book was not nearly as crappy as this.
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