Movie: Brideshead Revisited
My Rating: 3 stars
I have to start by admitting that I haven’t read this book. I know, it’s a huge gap in my education. So I’m not quite sure how closely the movie plot sticks to the story laid out in Evelyn Waugh’s classic novel. But, I’m guessing that the two must be pretty different because my impression of this movie was that it was less about the story, and more about looking at all the pretty 1920s fashions, and vicariously enjoying all the classy booze these characters are constantly swilling. It looks like a very decadent lifestyle. So, perhaps it’s only in depicting that lifestyle that these two works overlap. Although, that’s just a guess. But, it makes sense that the visual medium of film would want to explore all the textures and fabrics that these wealthy lords are constantly wallowing in, while the book would be more concerned with narrative.
But, this movie isn’t really about decadence as much as it’s about feeling guilty for enjoying that luxury. Because the privileged family who lives at this lavish Brideshead Castle is very Catholic. They live a life of ease and entitlement, but the overbearing matriarch (Emma Thompson) never misses an opportunity to make her children feel bad about it. So, naturally she’s going to have a problem with her children’s new college friend Charles (Matthew Goode). He’s free-thinking, an atheist, and as a poor man, unfettered by aristocratic tradition. But, the big problem is that it seems that both her son and daughter are a little bit in love with him. You know that that kind of drama is going to get messy. (And, of course, it does).
So, as you may have guessed, this is not a feel-good movie. It’s full of all those depressing, classic clichés, like class differences, social climbing, and unrequited love. No one is happy and no one gets satisfaction. It’s not really my idea of a good time. But, at least the costumes are pretty spectacular—both the men’s and the women’s. I’ve always loved the look of 1920s fashions. And, all the actors are very pretty to look at as well. I can easily imagine how the characters could become infatuated with one another. But, I’m not sure I’m enthusiastic enough about this movie to want to recommend it to you. It was a little bit of a snoozefest, and the visuals weren’t enough to save it for me. Of course, go ahead and watch this one if you’re a fan of any of these actors. They all do a good job. Or, see it if you really like Waugh. But, you don’t need to go out of your way.