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How ideal.

Since I actually have free time for the next two weeks to watch movies, here's another entry in my 2010 movie watch list:

An Ideal Husband (1999)
Directed by:  Oliver Parker
Screenplay by:  Oliver Parker (based on a play by Oscar Wilde)
Starring:  Jeremy Northam, Rupert Everett, Cate Blanchett, Julianne Moore, Minnie Driver

Synopsis:  Sir Robert Chiltern (Northam) has everything: a successful political career, beautiful home, and loving wife (Blanchett).  But all of this is threatened when an old acquaintance (Moore) arrives in London with plans to blackmail Chiltern into throwing his political support behind a scheme by using a secret from his past.  When Chiltern's charming but idle best friend (Everett) finds out about the blackmail threat, he tries to figure out a way to save his friend's career and marriage without ruining his chance at romance with Chiltern's little sister Mabel (Driver).

I've read The Importance of Being Earnest and have seen two film versions and one stage version of that play, plus I've read The Picture of Dorian Gray and watched the 1945 film adaptation.  And I read Lady Windermere's Fan a long time ago (and I think I also read A Woman of No Importance, but I'm not 100% sure on that one)...so I'm relatively familiar with Oscar Wilde's works.  However, I've never read An Ideal Husband nor seen a stage production, so I don't have anything to compare this movie to.  Now that I've seen the movie, though, I'm definitely going to read the play.

I thought it was very well done.  Sometimes when plays are adapted for the screen, they don't translate very well.  I've seen a few movies that were originally plays where the whole time I was watching I was like, "Ugh, this feels like a play."  And in those cases, that "play" feeling was a bad thing -- like it should have remained solely a play and should never have been made into a movie.  In the case of An Ideal Husband, I got that "play" feeling while watching it, but it worked for the production.  I think the reason it worked so well is because of the director.  Oliver Parker is known for doing a lot of Wilde material, so I think he has a pretty good handle on it.  He's done this movie, the 2002 film version of The Importance of Being Earnest, and 2009's Dorian Gray (which I have not seen because it hasn't been released on DVD in the States yet.

Also, the cast was quite good.  Jeremy Northam was wonderful (although I could've done without the slightly creepy mustache), as was Cate Blanchett.  Blanchett was born to do period pieces...put her in a corset or a bustle and she fits in perfectly.  Also, Julianne Moore can rock a British accent (she also has one in A Single Man).  I have to be honest, in my opinion, the vast majority of  American actresses can't do non-American accents, but Moore is alright.  Minnie Driver, who I sometimes find annoying, was actually rather adorable in this movie.  I think a lot of her likability came from the character of Mabel...she has some of the best lines and her interactions with Rupert Everett's character are quite funny.  Speaking of Everett, do you remember before the Tonys this year how Newsweek published an article in which the author said that gay actors aren't believable playing straight (After it was published, Kristin Chenoweth totally kicked ass standing up for all her gay male friends.)?  Anyway, um, Rupert Everett!  If there's proof that gay men can play straight, it's totally him.  He's good at any role he plays.

Over all, I thought the movie was well done.  I'm going to have to read the play before I can determine how true it was to Wilde's version, but my gut feeling is that it was pretty accurate.


Comments

( 2 comments — Leave a comment )
olsonm_raymond
Aug. 5th, 2010 02:48 am (UTC)
Hi Piney!

This was the movie where I first saw Cate. I had just heard she was playing Galadriel in LotR; I didn't know her and I wanted to see if I approved. It was love at first sight. O;-) It's a charming movie. I know what you mean about the 'play' feel but it did work. I agree about the mustache. They're hard to pull off.
13_pines
Aug. 5th, 2010 03:55 am (UTC)
Hiya Ray!

So this was your introduction to Cate, huh? I agree that the movie is charming. The first movie featuring Cate I ever saw was The Talented Mr. Ripley.

Considering that this is a period piece, I suppose Jeremy Northam's mustache is (borderline) acceptable. I can only think of three people who can actually pull off a mustache: Tom Selleck, Dennis Farina, and my best friend's father. Oh, and my man Gary Oldman as Jim Gordon (but ONLY as Gordon, not in real life).
( 2 comments — Leave a comment )