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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
VINE VOICEon 25 January 2009
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!!
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
on 25 September 2009
I tried very hard to like the book, but failed miserably to get into it because of the way it was written. For me, this was one of the very rare cases in which the film was better than the book. Robert Downey's performance came as a revelation to me - I never thought he could act, and he carried me with him. Sam Neill's Charles II was a commanding presence (forget the scene where it is suggested that he had the Fire of London started deliberately).
The sets were superb, the evocation of Restoration England with its extremes of splendour and poverty was impressive. Maybe the ending was too sweet for some, but I was more than happy to indulge in it. There is far too much grimness in the world: it does no harm to balance it out by showing that happiness is possible or that a man or woman may change and discover a dream worth fulfilling.
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
on 27 September 2012
Ironic, isn't it, that this film about England is not for sale in England.
Which is odd - not only is it a superb film which we in England loved but which we in England are liklely to understand because - heck, this is our history. We know this stuff more than we know about the events in some pettyfogging ex-colony on the other side of the atlantic.
Except - no. Not true is it?
We're supposed to know everything about every aspect of America - its every gangspeak, every little cultural nuance and every slang term whilst anyone in the USA is -a apparently - utterly confused when someone in an English film mentions something obscure like 'Pavement', 'Bonnet' or 'Lift' and have to pretensd that - for instance - we name things 'for' something rather than (As is actually the case) 'After' something. Worse - we, who have to understand every grunt issued by American actors are - apparently - being incomprehensible when actors speak in good, clear English - from England. The country where this film is set.
The world is NOT the US and the US is NOT the world. The US is a whole continent containing many, many interesting cultures and accents - most of which are never heard in film - American or otherwise.
England (And indeed, Ireland, Scotland and Wales) are much smaller but also have a wealth of wiorthwhile acents.
Please use your time on this planet to find films that feature this wonderful phenomenon rather than asking everyone to sound exactly like the non-acent of Hollywood. There are many wonderful American accents you have yet to hear. Accents are fun. Learn to enjoy them. Stop watching the same re-heated non-story's about non-pllaces and non-times. Watch a FILM! Not - as we're told by the big companies - a 'Movie'.
This is a film. It's a very good one. It has English accents and no guns or car chases.
It's not available in the UK where - in all the world, it would be most appreciated.
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7 of 9 people found the following review helpful
on 2 March 2008
The first time, this movie can seem disjointed and the main character unlikable. But by the second or third viewing, the disjointedness becomes complexity and the growth of Robert's character evident. The characterizations are fairly rich and beautifully acted by a fine cast, in beautifully shot sets and costumes. (Unlike the previous reviewer, I think the second half is wonderfully written and generally better.) If I say it reminds of truths of living a good life, that sounds preachy and is misleading; this movie is inspirational in the best sense as well as engaging and entertaining.
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18 of 26 people found the following review helpful
on 11 November 2001
I want to give this movie 5 stars. I want to love this movie. And its possible to, but you have to forgive a huge number of flaws in order to do so.
The film starts well. The opening minutes show us an opulant 16th century London, complete with a royal palace lifted straight from the arabian nights. With its mix strange decadence, open sexuality and (shockingly for a Hollywood movie with Meg Ryan in) even full frontal nudity (!) it plays like the Caligula that you know Tinto Brass wanted before Penthouse re-edited it for him. Downey Jr delivers his finest hour as Robert Merivil, a man with a talent for healing, who is seduced by the King (Sam Niel, who also is on top form) into leaving his life of medicine and marrying his (the kings) mistress in order to remove her from the gaze of court.
This is the basic plot detail for the first part of the film, and it works very very well. However the second part of the film (the bit with Meg Ryan in) is clumsily handeled, badly cast, laughably scripted and saccarine to the point of evil. In spite of this I forgive the film its sins (perhaps because i am so shocked the Downey can act) and would reccommend it (especially at a budget price).
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11 of 16 people found the following review helpful
VINE VOICEon 23 September 2000
Yes this is a period piece and the movie was beautifully costumed and the colors were brilliant. But a lot of movies can say that. These were great actors. They all made memorable movies before and after this one. Not all movies can say that they are more than the sum of their parts and that the characters were great enough to outshine the actors. But this one is one of those movies. It really doesn't fit any category of movie unless you can call it inspirational.
Robert Merivel was the master and the sum of his choices. Even the circumstances that looked like he had no control over were the results of previous choices. This also applied to the other characters that surrounded him. The end is the results of the means. This is one movie that could not be remade.
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on 15 January 2015
Great value and service
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0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on 23 November 2012
This would be the first time that a film with Robert Downey Jr. disappointed me. He is miscaste and the Director did not get the balance of his character right. The film dwells for too long on his obnoxious side before his turn towards the a man of values and depth, which happens too quickly by comparison. The supporting players do an excellent job in this mistaken and obvious film. The end wraps up in a blink and all is well except for those who actually paid to see this.
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1 of 3 people found the following review helpful
on 19 July 2010
I love this film, viewed this about 10 years back when it first came out although never thought of purchasing this. 1 thing it was not a version 1, so I now find I am limited to how many times I can now watch this,
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0 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on 22 September 2010
This was a very good film all around I was please to buy it at a great price
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