Saturday, March 28, 2009

Vacation catch-up: Brideshead Revisited

This is the final movie I saw on my vacation last week, and I'll start reviewing newer movies I've seen. I haven't read the book upon which Brideshead Revisited is based, nor seen the 1981 mini-series that included every detail of the book. The new movie, with Emma Thompson as the matriarch, Lady Marchmain, married to Michael Gambon's Lord Marchmain and parents of Sebastian and Julia, brings to life a very troubled family. Our main character is an observer who gets too involved. Charles Ryder (Matthew Goode), a member of the middle class in England between the wars who is accepted to a good school and meets our dear Sebastian, the younger, gay son of the Marchmains. He falls for Charles and brings him home to Brideshead, an enormous palatial estate that is the home of the Lords Marchmain. Charles is enchanted by the house, and the wealth, and especially by Sebastian's sister Julia. The whole movie is very much of the style of Merchant/Ivory productions, evenly paced, with inuendo rather than explicit descriptions of relationships. We follow Charles Ryder as he makes a career and name for himself as an artist, tries to rescue Sebastian from his own destruction, and then try to create a life with Julia. We can never quite understand all of Charles' motivations. Does he actually love Sebastian or Julia or just Brideshead and the wealth? It's a very good movie if the genre and style appeal to you. 3.5 Lambs/Stars

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