It’s always a danger to go back and offer a fresh take on a classic text that’s already made the transition to television so well. In the case of Brideshead Revisited
, the 1981 miniseries has become so revered that it’s understandable few have been tempted to tackle it since. Enter, however, writers Andrew Davies and Jeremy Brock, who have taken Evelyn Waugh’s novel, and created a television movie worth considering.
Set in 1925, the story of Brideshead Revisited doesn’t easily fit into a feature running time, but the end result still works well. The life of the Marchmain family, under the ultra-critical eye of Lady Marchmain (played by the excellent, as always, Emma Thompson, in a quite small role) throws together romance, religion and a handy dose of obsession too, as outsider Charles Ryder gets invited to the Brideshead estate by Sebastian Flyte. Inevitably, the pace of the production is a little too quick at times, and following all of the characters takes some work. Yet this is a solid piece of period drama.
What it isn’t is a rival for the original miniseries, and perhaps that’s why this take on Brideshead Revisited went down the television movie route instead. The consequence is that it does feel a little cramped, and while the production values are good, a bit more breathing room in the running time wouldn’t have hurt. Still, as it stands this is a perfectly fine take on the novel, even if it never has pretensions to be the definitive one. --Jon Foster
Privilege. Ambition. Desire. At Brideshead Everything Comes at a Price.
A heartbreaking romantic epic, this adaptation of Evelyn Waugh’s classic novel tells an evocative story of forbidden love and the loss of innocence.
The unworldly undergraduate Charles Ryder (Matthew Goode) is befriended by the flamboyant and aristocratic Sebastian Flyte (Ben Whishaw), son of Lord and Lady Marchmain (Michael Gambon and Academy Award-Winner Emma Thompson), and is thrilled by an invitation to Brideshead, the Marchmain’s magnificent ancestral home. Beguiled by his surroundings, Charles is entranced by the opulent house and the glamourous world of this eccentric family. While Lord Marchmain lives in Venice with his mistress, Lady Marchmain runs the house, the failure of her marriage redoubling the fierce Catholic faith imposed on her children – Sebastian and the beautiful Julia (Hayley Atwell).
As Charles’s infatuation moves from the provocative Sebastian to the sophisticated Julia, it is a faith with which he finds himself increasingly at odds…