- Language: English
- Aspect Ratio: 1.66:1
- Number of discs: 1
- Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars See all reviews (5 customer reviews)
- ASIN: B0001ADB64
- Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #122,216 in DVD (See Top 100 in DVD)
This is one of the most distinctive films which has been made therefore: a film which knows the entertainment context of film, drama, literature, the stage and then the television or movie-house film today. This is supreme entertainment.
In the same tradition and indeed category, without qualification or doubt, as the great pieces of cinema of old - "as Lawrence of Arabia" - this is a modern piece of dramatic art for the nineties and remains remarkably unchallenged in this decade. There are few films of the the last few decades which see so far ahead. Neither an enfant savage nor an enfant terrible - rather this film is as it knows these have been high or prevalent in the cultural climate, in the general cultural prescription. And these notions or identities are and have long been lurking in a culturally bound class (and country). This is embedded within the dramatisation of the tale. The compass of the film and of the story are great but limited.
I give it five stars because of the supreme, engaging and limited but total cinematic nature of this piece, which unexpectedly touches but also inspires the intellect with the emotions in making the story true by successfully refusing to explicate this human fantasy story in anyway; by its actual subtlety of treatment of the book; by giving the audience a direct light to see this literary tale.
And so also a more intellectual fable is given to the viewer on a silver platter, to indulge in without even a semblance of exertion.
Actually I would think it was a true story because of the devious, contextually ambiguous ending - which is not quite cunning. Should be seen and seen again and kept precious.
The dialogue in the film is remarkably faithful to the novel. With one notable exception, the actors quietly underplay the scenes, almost all of which involve tense and emotionally-wringing scenarios. This serves to underscore the absurdity of the "stiff upper lip" social mores of the time. The film stars James Wilby as Tony Last. Wilby is a dead ringer for the young Evelyn Waugh -- a nice touch given the story's autobiographical origins. Kristen Scott Thomas stars as Brenda.
About three-fourths of the film is set in London and rural Great Britain during the years between WWI and WWII. The remainder is set in the Amazon jungles. The film's score features native South American musical instruments throughout the scenes set in Great Britain which, again, serves to underscore the film's social themes.
Sir Alec Guinness dominates the jungle scenes as the amoral Mr. Todd. He's the one actor in this film who doesn't underplay his role. In this film, Guinness is unwashed, unshaven, scheming, hateful and maniacal. In short, he becomes "The Man Who Liked Dickens". I felt that his performance here was one of the best I've seen.
I rated this film 4 stars rather than 5 because there are one or two scenes which are so underplayed I would have missed them entirely had I not read the novel beforehand and been on the lookout for them.
Overall, this is definitely worth watching.
The story is set in England of the 1930's. Tony and Lady Brenda, and upper class couple who live mostly in the country, have been married for seven years when Tony invites a man from his club to come and stay, Mr Beaver. Brenda gets an odd hankering for their guest, even though Mr Beaver proves himself to have feet of clay over and over again - but then so does she. There is a slow decline in Tony and Brenda's relationship, the deterioration filtering through layers of genteel gossip and impeccably good manners. The ending has a marvellous twist to it also. The script retains some of the sharpness of the Waughs novel, and much of the humour.