12 October 1999 | hammy-3
John Banville's Delightful adaptation of Elizabeth Bowen's Novel
Having tried to read the novel on which this movie was based and not enjoyed doing so all that much, this film was an unexpected delight. While Bowen's style is often tedious, Banville's adaptation moves along at a sprightly pace that belies it's tragic, Chekovian subject matter. Like BBC's Persuasion and Vanity Fair, this film tries to rescue the period adaptation from the asphixiating clutches of Merchant-Ivory while retaing a large degree of textual integrity. Banvill, who brought the Irish "Big House" novel into the postmodern era with _Birchwood_ brings a contemporary eye to this tale of Anglo-Irish Aristocrats in the Last Days of their tenure. It's wonderfully acted, with Jane Birkin giving the sort of display of gap-toothed Anglo-Saxon diffidence that made _La Belle Noisuise_ tolerable; Maggie Smith doing her usual indignant aristocrat, Fiona Shaw playing Fiona Shaw, and Micheal Gambon thankfully playing an Anglo-Irish rather than Irish character. It's a film that anyone with a casual interest in Irish history will be enlightened by and one that anyone with an eye for beauty will be delighted by.