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ANYONE FOR A SPOT OF GOOD MOVIEGOING?

 

picture - Brideshead RevisitedFilm Review

by Chad Menville

published August 1, 2008

 

Brideshead Revisited

rated PG-13

now playing in select theaters

 

In the new version of Brideshead Revisited, innuendos abound as this talented cast of cunning linguists engage in a volley of wordplay exciting as a Federer match. Based on Evelyn Waugh’s acclaimed novel, the film is narrated by Captain Charles Ryder, stationed at Brideshead Castle during WWII, as he recollects his bittersweet pre-war times there. Waugh’s social satire is preserved, thanks to the direction of Julian Jarrold, and the leads Matthew Goode, Ben Whishaw and Hayley Atwell.    

 

The two Oxford University students on holiday, wide eyed Charles and his privileged pal Sebastian, wile away their free time at Sebastian’s ancestral Baroque castle. Charles gets on well, to a fault, with Sebastian’s sister Julia. The parents, Lord and Lady Marchmain (played by the extraordinary Michael Gambon and a brilliant, icy Emma Thompson), are a bit harder to read. The matriarch plays her cards close to her chest as she asks Charles to stay for the summer, even if it is mainly to figure him out and to keep their son company.

 

picture - Brideshead RevisitedDeceptions seem all but inevitable, and yet little of it appears premeditated. For this reason, Lady Marchmain is the one who comes closest to being a bona fide villain, especially given the way she manipulates those in her orbit. Charles is with the family, though not of the family. A guest, he risks remaining on the fringes of their inner circle in one of the most unforgettable portraits of fate and desire ever told.

 

This Brideshead is far better than the12-hour made-for-television version of 1981. That said, it doesn’t feel overly condensed; merely rich, with an epic scope like that of The English Patient. The plot blossoms through a masterful use of language, thanks to the wit of screenwriters Jeremy Brock and Andrew Davies. My favorite film of 2008 thus far, Brideshead is a must-see for anyone seeking a film of emotional complexity and an escape from the brain-dead summer fare.

 

chadmenville @ stageandcinema.com

 

 
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