Film Review © 1999 by Trip Reynolds

Romantic Comedy

Directed and Written by Oliver Parker, based on the play by Oscar Wilde.

Starring Rupert Everett (as stylish bachelor Lord Arthur Goring), Julianne Moore (as stylish and sensual and scheming Mrs. Laura Cheveley), Jeremy Northam (as stylish but flawed Sir Robert Chiltern), Cate Blanchett (as stylish and well principled Lady Gertrud Chiltern), Minnie Driver (as stylish but essentially ingénue sister of Sir Robert and secret admirer of Lord Arthur, Mabel Chiltern).

This is an excellent film! You should see this movie!

Perhaps, one of the first things to catch your eyes is that excellent production values abound. In particular, sets, costumes (hair/makeup) and music (Charlie Mole). Film seems like the painting of a master impressionist come-to-life in addition to showcasing excellent ensemble acting by actors all at the top of their craft. Film just reeks of British manners and all that! Ultimately, this soap opera story is about simple values such as friendship, trust, honesty, loneliness, and power as portrayed by a fine ensemble cast with skill, believability and gusto!

Jeremy Northam's Sir Robert Chiltern and his wife, Cate Blanchett's Lady Gertrud, are revered as the most principled and worthy of the British elite to seek political life. As the story goes, women's activist and ever proper Lady Gertrud has never told a lie. Her husband, Sir Robert, has also been the model of truth and integrity, but not until an illegal event that gave him the wealth to enter British aristocracy. Of course, he never told Lady Gertrud of his earlier, darker days. In yet another diverse role, enter Julianne (Assassins, Boogie Nights) Moore's deliciously manipulative Mrs. Laura Cheveley, former school mate of and always disliked by Lady Gertrud, with a plan to blackmail Sir Robert to obtain favor on a real estate scheme. Of course, to tie all characters and loose ends together there must be a central character in these comedies of manners and this is perfectly supplied by Rupert Everett's Lord Arthur Goring. As associate to all, he acts as confidant to Lady Gertrud, as former lover to Mrs. Cheveley, as friend to Sir Robert, and as prospective suitor to Mabel. Each character is distinctly played here, all with unique personalities and, most importantly, values and ambitions.

For some, period films are ignored for any number of reasons, stuffy costumes, stuffy language, etc. An excellent film can rise above the immediate trappings of era and appearance. This films does exactly that.

Film is briskly but attentively directed by Oliver Parker.

Film has a sharp running length of 96 minutes.  

Recommendation: Again, you should see this movie!