Ideal Husband

"Good"

Ideal Husband Review


Showing even more cheek than he did in reinterpreting Shakespeare's "Othello"as an erotic thriller in 1995, screenwriter-director Oliver Parker's second feature film is an audaciouslyre-written -- and in some ways improved -- version of "An Ideal Husband,"Oscar Wilde's drawing room comedy of politics, marriage and blackmail.

A view askew English Lit redeaux that will likely gallpurist, enchant those who don't know the difference, and at least amuseeveryone in between, Parker's perfectly-cast "Ideal Husband"may not be pure Wilde -- the director adds his own subplots and createswhole scenes from events only implied in the play -- but it preserves what'simportant: The playwright's unmistakable insight and always delightfulwit.

The film opens with the curtains drawing back on the bedof resolute bachelor Lord Goring (Rupert Everett), who is saying goodbyeto a pretty overnight guest. Just to look at Everett in this role is torealize that he is the most consummate Oscar Wilde performer ever. Charming,aristocratic, handsome, smug, sharp-tongued but distinguished, he setsthe tone for his character's views toward society, and especially towardmarriage, in this first scene, saying, his voice dripping with irony, "Otherpeople are quite dreadful. To love oneself is the beginning of a lifelongromance."

Goring is the steadiest head in a story, even if he isnarcissistic and "the idlest man in London." While the rest ofthe characters are pre-occupied with extortion, society and affairs ofthe heart, he is always ready with adventurous solutions to others' problems,or at the very least a clever quip. And he is called on for such solutionsregularly by the rest of this picture's dream cast.

Jeremy Northam, who gave such a stunning performance recentlyin "TheWinslow Boy," plays Sir Robert Chiltern,a rising politician and practiced English gentleman with a single, darksecret from his past that is about to be exploited. Sir Robert, the titlecharacter and really the center of the story, turns to his good friendGoring for help.

The beautiful Cate Blanchett ("Elizabeth"),a sublime chameleon of an actress, is Gertrude, Sir Robert's concernedand conservative wife, who also looks to Goring, her dearest friend, fora shoulder when the imminent scandal disrupts her storybook marriage.

The blackmailer Mrs. Cheveley is played with wicked enthusiasmby Julianne Moore as the feminine equivalent of the mustache-twirling villainwith a political agenda. Deliciously manipulative, she offers to abandonher scheme against honorable Sir Robert if Goring will marry her, a prospecthe is determined to avoid no matter who the bride might be. In one of Parker'sflourishes, he proposes a bet (with the same stakes) on Sir Robert's integrityinstead.

Only poor, smitten Mabel, Sir Robert's younger sister playedwith alluring insecurity by Minnie Driver, lacks for Lord Goring's attention-- mostly because she wants it so badly.

Parker's take on Wilde's play deliberately emphasizes themesthat are as prevalent now as they were when "An Ideal Husband"debuted 100 years ago (political scandal, the moral gorge of capitalismrun rampant). But such themes, while sometimes overly obvious, take a backseat to Wilde's chirpy comedy, which the film nails perfectly.

A very handsome affair to be sure, with gorgeous costumes,sets and photography, "An Ideal Husband" is a little uneven andsome of the plot developments come out of nowhere (Goring's realizationthat he loves Mabel) or are based largely on silly misunderstandings. Butthat is as much Wilde's fault as it is Parker's, and it's clear the directoradores this work he has so brazenly toyed with.

The fact that the film's augmented climax is followed byanother 10 awkward minutes of story is all Parker's doing through his restructuringof the script. This anti-climax, while still engaging and especially jocular,gives the film an odd shape that might have audience members checking theirwatches and scratching their heads.

Whether his changes (which do tie up some of Wilde's loseends) disparage or improve upon the original work may become a topic ofgreat debate among theater and literature types, but there is no denyingWilde's wonderfully polite yet scathing social satire remains intact, thanksin part to an ideal cast -- and that's the best reason to see "AnIdeal Husband."



Facts and Figures

Run time: 30 mins

In Theaters: Friday 25th February 1955

Box Office Worldwide: $18.5M

Budget: $14M

Production compaines: Miramax Films, Pyramide Productions

Reviews

Contactmusic.com: 3 / 5

Cast & Crew

Director:

Starring: as Lady Gertrude Chiltern, as Miss Mabel Chiltern, as Lord Arthur Goring, as Mrs. Laura Cheveley, as Sir Robert Chiltern, as Phipps

Also starring:

Contactmusic


Links



Advertisement

New Movies

Julieta Movie Review

Julieta Movie Review

Iconic Spanish filmmaker Pedro Almodovar is back with another powerfully complex female-centred drama, along the...

Popstar: Never Stop Never Stopping Movie Review

Popstar: Never Stop Never Stopping Movie Review

An astute satire of the pop music business, this raucous mock-documentary is consistently hilarious from...

War Dogs Movie Review

War Dogs Movie Review

Based on a rather astounding true story, this comedy-drama centres on two stoners who landed...

Swallows and Amazons Movie Review

Swallows and Amazons Movie Review

After a number of films, TV series and stage adaptations, Arthur Ransome's beloved 1930 novel...

David Brent: Life on the Road Movie Review

David Brent: Life on the Road Movie Review

The original BBC sitcom The Office ran for 14 episodes from 2001 to 2003, and...

The Childhood of a Leader Movie Review

The Childhood of a Leader Movie Review

Bold and intelligent, this dark drama is a challenging portrait of the making of an...

Pete's Dragon Movie Review

Pete's Dragon Movie Review

This hugely enjoyable adventure is a loose remake of the 1977 Disney hit that blended...

Advertisement
The Shallows Movie Review

The Shallows Movie Review

With a simple premise and plenty of visual style, Spanish filmmaker Jaume Collet-Serra (Unknown) takes...

Mike and Dave Need Wedding Dates Movie Review

Mike and Dave Need Wedding Dates Movie Review

Watching this gross-out comedy, it's clear that the gifted cast and crew had a great...

Nerve Movie Review

Nerve Movie Review

With a premise that feels almost eerily current, this stylish thriller revolves around a phone...

The Carer Movie Review

The Carer Movie Review

Brian Cox gets the role of a lifetime in this warm comedy about living life...

Born to Be Blue Movie Review

Born to Be Blue Movie Review

Writer-director Robert Budreau takes a stylised approach to this biopic of the legendary jazz artist...

Jason Bourne Movie Review

Jason Bourne Movie Review

It's been nine years since Matt Damon and Paul Greengrass collaborated on The Bourne Ultimatum,...

The Commune [Kollektivet] Movie Review

The Commune [Kollektivet] Movie Review

Veteran Danish filmmaker Thomas Vinterberg (Festen, The Hunt) returns to a smaller homegrown story after...

Advertisement
Artists
Actors
    Filmmakers
      Artists
      Bands
        Musicians
          Artists
          Celebrities
             
              Artists
              Interviews
                musicians & bands in the news
                  actors & filmmakers in the news
                    celebrities in the news

                      Go Back in Time using our News archive to see what happened on a particular day in the past.