Browse all reviews by letter     A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z 0 - 9
Directed by
James Ivory

Reviewed by
Bill Hubbard
3.5 stars

The Golden Bowl

This is a fitting addition to the Merchant-Ivory oeuvre - meticulous d'cor, wonderful costume design and a comparably rich original score and this is a very seductive visual package of especial charm for those who are enamoured of the elegance of bygone days. Uma Thurman in the lead role of Charlotte, has trouble imbuing her character with life. Comparing her to Gillian Armstrong's Lily Bart in another Henry James adaption, The House of Mirth, (and a film I enjoyed much more than this) she struggles to suggest the mixture of vulnerability and pride of a woman forced to fend herself in a social milieu that expected nothing of her than to be a decorative appendage and with no option but to marry into money. Jeremy Northam as the Italian count with whom Charlotte is obsessively in love also comes off second best to Eric Stoltz in Mirth. At least the latter's character had a poisoned charm, Northam's Amerigo is a drip who would seem to have no evident quality that would inspire Charlotte's folly (seasoned troupers Nolte, Fox and Huston fare much better than their younger colleagues). There is a marvellously baroque opening flashback which frames the main story with a kind of tragic foreboding that is alluded to twice again but, strangely, never realised. I assume this is meant to signify the displacement of passion by possession in the capitalist order of things (there are two oddly beautiful moments when the film segues into contemporary historical footage of American streetlife and factory workers) but am not quite sure. As is so often the case with this film one must make one's own inferences rather than see them embodied. BH

Show detailed review




Want something different?

random vintage best worst