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(Review originally written at 30 June 2008)

The movie features a great and original story of a writer, who happens to be an insane asylum inmate, during the Napoleonic era who through his writing knows to manipulate and control everyone around him, of all levels of society. His stories are daringly sexual orientated (for its time of course) and is attracting all kinds of people. Amazingly enough the story is even supposedly based on a true story, although of course the movie story-wise took some liberties, with its characters as well.

The movie doesn't only focus on its main manipulative character but also those around him, who basically each have an own motive and story-line in the movie but are of course all connected with each through the stories and the Marquis de Sade personally. It of course helps in this that all of the characters are being portrayed by some excellent actors.

It's not your typical costumes drama and it also isn't a typical Philip Kaufman movie. Kaufman doesn't direct often or many movies but when he does it normally is always something good and also special, that is just a bit different from the usual genre movie the movie gets made in. Of course this movie features a lot of sexual undertone, which gives the movie a special and also yet somehow unpleasant kind of atmosphere, which I mean in a positive way.

As could be expected, the dialog for this film is amazing. It's deliciously old fashioned and often poetic. Really some Shakespearian like written here. And again, it really helps that the movie has some great actors delivering the lines.

Geoffrey Rush is a real scene stealer and no wonder he received an Oscar nomination for his role in this movie. It further more features the other multiple nominee- and Oscar winners such as Michael Caine, Kate Winslet and Joaquin Phoenix. The four principal actors, as of yet, share a total of 13 Oscar nominations and 3 wins. It says something about their qualities and the acting performances in this movie.

Of course the movie is also great looking with its sets and costumes as well as with its cinematography and directing style.

On a downside note, the movie tends to be a bit overlong. Even though the movie is just over 2 hours long, it still feels much longer and it gives you the feeling the movie should had reached its conclusion earlier on. It's not that the movie ever bores, it just starts to drag a bit as it heads toward its ending.

A special kind of movie that is worth watching.

8/10

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About Frank Veenstra

Watches movies...writes about them...and that's it for now.
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