Saturday, January 03, 2009

Brideshead Revisited

I have not seen the celebrated 1981 UK miniseries or read the book by Evelyn Waugh so this movie was my first experience to the tale about upper-class Catholic Marchmain family and the awestruck middle-class Charles that even if he wanted to be an observer ended up being a key player in the tragedy that followed the Marchmain family.

I can imagine that the story is about wealth, grandeur and Catholicism as an elaborate portrait of a generation and an era; but in this movie I can hardly see it because performances are so average that most of the drama or the emotions are lost in empty characters expressions that convey absolutely nothing. There is one big exception, Emma Thompson is impressive as the stern Lady Marchamain, a matriarch that absolutely uses God to make everyone around her do whatever she wants and believes is the right thing. Just because her performance the film is worth watching.

The story tells about how Charles meets Lord Sebastian Flyte at Oxford and embarks in a close romance; but when reluctantly Sebastian introduces Charles to his family, he’s awestruck by being able to rub elbows with the upper class. Lady Marchmain likes Charles as she believes is a good influence to her son homosexual and alcoholic ways; but as soon as Charles, Sebastian and Julia (Sebastian’s sister) go to Venice to visit Lord Marchmain and Charles totally falls for Julia everything changes in the dynamics of the story and from then on is a true spiral down into a family tragedy.

Maybe if the key characters performances were above average I could have felt that this period drama of epic proportions could have been interesting; but unfortunately performances were so empty that not only was not credible all the “falling in love” but also became lengthy and tedious. Still I watched because I was looking forward to see Emma Thompson character.

Seems like the movie went into oblivion and only Emma Thompson performance is being recognized with honors with nominations for Best Supporting Actress in the 2008 BIFA, Satellite Awards and 2009 London Critics Circle Film Awards, all well deserved accolades as she’s quite good in this role.

If you have not seen the miniseries or read the book and if you do not mind lengthy films, then perhaps you could give a try to this epic drama but do not expect much from actors’ performances.


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