I've just finished reading the novel this movie is based upon, and so this was something rather exciting and interesting for me!
In many ways, it is a little unfair to compare both book and movie, since it is always somewhat difficult to get an accurate adaptation due to time alone. (pressing four hundred or so pages into a mere two hour film is rather a tall order - not to mention that every Reader of course will inevitably have a different imagination and interpretation of the same story) However, the first half of this movie is pretty faithful to the book, but it is the second half that brings rather a lot of changes and alterations, and for those of you who have read the book; Hugh Grant's character ('Finn') is notably absent throughout this second half. However, the changes do not spoil this outstanding Picture, and I feel sure that Rose Tremain would have been suitably pleased with the result!
Not being familiar with Robert Downey Jnr. (I don't watch a lot of modern TV or movies as a rule) I was a little unsure of his portraying 'Merivel' - the fact that he was not English could have been a problem in itself, since many American actors are not usually very adept at the English accent - but a couple of Americans in this surpass themselves, and Downey comes across as thoroughly English! At the end of the movie, of course I had no doubt that he'd been right for the part and had been well-chosen. (perhaps the only criticism being that he was not the ugly-featured man the book had described)
This is a most WONDERFUL film - as is the book, and there are some very moving scenes within this as well as the amusing ones - in particular, I was moved to tears during the scene where the inmates of a poor Bedlam are coaxed outside into the grounds to dance to music to help their poor bedevilled minds - and indeed it seemed to have the desired affect and makes one wonder if music should be good therapy for such disturbed people? Because of this, and other moving moments within the Picture, I was a little frustrated by the Trailer that was made, since it does not do the film justice. None of the moving scenes are shown, which allows it to come across as little more than just a 'farce' and so I felt this to be a mistake for any of those who perhaps had not read the book, and may have dismissed it accordingly by this factor alone.
This is a 'lush' and lavish production with a wonderful backing soundtrack that is reminiscent of something Enya may have composed but did not.
The Bonus material included on my copy has an interesting 'Featurette', but once again; does not highlight the any of the movies best moments, and is simply not long enough...
A truly WONDERFUL film you will want to see again and again!
This gets a THOUSAND Amazon Stars from me!!