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(Review originally written at 9 April 2008)

I'll confess that this is not entirely my favorite genre. I like some British costume drama's, as long as they have some quirkiness added to it, such as for instance is the case in such movies as "Barry Lyndon", "The Draughtsman's Contract" and "Dangerous Liaisons". This movie is more in the style and mind of a Jane Austen novel, which is just not the type of movie for which I sit down and enjoy watching.

But nevertheless that doesn't mean I'm totally blind for the quality this movie got made in. Its Oscar nominations; Best Actress in a Leading Role, Best Cinematography, Best Costume Design and Best Writing, Screenplay Based on Material from Another Medium, are all certainly ones I can agree with. Add to that the costume design and you have the 5 elements that make this a good and certainly perfectly watchable movie.

What I like about the story is that it features an original love-triangle. It's not the type of love-triangle you would just expect and it also makes the movie as a whole original not entirely predictable to watch. It's well layered and executed in the movie. It however perhaps too long for the movie to take shape. Basically the first halve of the movie totally couldn't interest me and it was standard, slow and just not that interesting. However the second halve, from the moment on the movie gets set in Venice, really made up a lot for me.

The movie is set at the early 20th century, which is not the most usual time period for this type of movie. However, if you would had told me the movie was set in the late 19th century I would had also believed it. Basically it are only the cars and phones that give away that this movie is set in the 20th century. The rest of the movie just feels and looks the same as any other costume drama set during a more common earlier time period. The sets and costumes for this time period are just fantastic. Not just for the Venice sequences but also really for the sequences set in London.

The movie is also not as heavy handed as it might sound and as you perhaps would expect. The movie mostly remains on the shallow safe side, until heads toward its very ending. It often makes this a bland and rather formulaic movie to watch, despite its hospitality. I think you can blame director Iain Softley, who directed his movie rather static and standard. Or perhaps blame the '90's, which just wasn't the most style-full period for movie making.

A good and certainly watchable movie, that perhaps should had been a bit more bold and edgier in its execution.

7/10

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About Frank Veenstra

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