Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Brideshead Revisited

This movie is a masterpiece. It deserves a long review, but I will keep it short.

It's a romance whose hero Charles (Matthew Goode), although sympathetic, displays the flaw of uncontrollable envy. He will do anything to obtain Brideshead, a country house in England that he grows to desire as his own. He has a strong platonic or suggestively homosexual friendship with the owner's son Sebastian "Lord" Flyte (Ben Whishaw) who first meets him and invites him around. He then develops a romantic interest in daughter Julia (Hayley Atwell).

The story winds its way around the ambitious efforts of the "Painter/Artist from Paddington" to do anything to win Brideshead as his home. His envious desire motivates him to develop his friendship with the family. Brideshead's owners are notably acted by Lord Marchmain (Michael Gambon) and Lady Marchmain (Emma Thompson).

The movie ends twenty years later with military occupation during the Second World War. The hero visits the house as a military man and remembers his past. This section, set at Brideshead, is mercifully brief.

It's an enjoyable movie following a complex family and their friendships. References by all to education, economic circumstances, religion and alcohol addiction permeate the hero's experience with the family. "Responsibility to the family" and being of service are illustrated as foundations of friendship.

The movie keeps emphasizing the role of religion in this family. It shows that a powerful attraction of religion is its ability to save a person from himself (or herself). But within the dysfunctional relationships in this movie, religion both builds self-awareness and divides family connections and friendships. All ultimately grow and learn to stay true to their beliefs.

The photography of England in the countryside, Oxford, London, Venice and Morocco is very flawless and beautiful.

It is all carefully and perfectly acted by beautiful people in precious surroundings and well worth watching for escapism, its interesting and entertaining story and memorable romances. "Brideshead Revisited" is most likely the "most beautiful movie" of 2008.

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