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4.1 out of 5 stars
4.1 out of 5 stars
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This loose modernization of the Wilde play "Lady Windermere's Fan" could have been even better. The ingredients are all there (a cleverly deceptive plot, brilliant dialogue, excellent actors, fantastic locations) and yet something is missing. For me it's the vital chemistry among the actors, and the casting is partly to blame. Also, both the female leads would have benefited from more flattering camera angles and stronger direction, as they seemed reluctant to inject much personality into the roles of two devastatingly alluring women. Helen Hunt gave an anaemic and overly depressed performance, and was simply not believable as a career mistress who had been the luxuriously-kept darling of the wealthiest men in New York. Scarlett Johansson sleepwalked through the entire movie wearing the same sulky expression and surprisingly failed to convey the intriguing duality of her character. Mark Umbers, an English actor, was awkwardly cast as an American; he did his best but was hampered by said lack of chemistry with the main female characters.

On the positive side, Stephen Campbell-Moore gave an elegant and utterly convincing performance as a charming but slightly dissolute aristocrat. John Standing was delightful as the slightly squiffy socialite. Milena Vukotic provided many hilarious moments with a perfectly straight face. In fact, all the supporting characters gave very good performances, but the stand-out was undoubtedly Tom Wilkinson who routinely stole every scene he was in. What saved this film was a seemingly inexhaustible supply of Oscar Wilde's epigrams which ran like a bubbling stream throughout the play. In fact it was almost overdone, as nearly all of Wilde's famous quips seem to have been utilized, many harvested from his other material.

The play urges society to take an honest look at how narrow-minded attitudes and malicious gossip can wreak havoc with innocent people's lives when "circumstantial evidence" is taken at face value, and also how sometimes the truth can hurt more than a discreet obfuscation of past events. It also shows how someone with a bad reputation can rise above a blemished past and achieve redemption through an act of noble self-sacrifice. Anyone familiar with Wilde's life will recognize his personal knowledge of these themes, however, in his inimitable style he makes his points through humour rather than by preaching. Another excellent reason to watch this production is the visual feast of the villa interiors and the beautifully photographed Amalfi location. I have deducted a star because of the uneven cast, but that has not stopped me from watching this DVD several times already and, to me, the brilliant dialogue alone would justify a purchase.
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on 16 August 2016
Good film could have done with being a bit longer.
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on 27 July 2017
You know what's coming but so well acted and great to watch!!
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on 15 June 2017
A good adaptation
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on 1 August 2014
Speedy delivery. Great movie.
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on 21 May 2017
Great film!
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on 31 July 2010
This is a relationship drama. The characters are high-class British and American tourists/expats in a small seaside town in pre-WW2 Italy.

Helen Hunt is just fabulous, playing the role of a middle-aged American woman who excels at milking money out of rich gentlemen in New York. The first scene of the movie shows how she's forced to escape. She ends up in Italy where she gets strangely involved with a freshly married young American man. His wife, in turn, becomes a target of an inventive and persistent aristocrat playboy form England. The plot is very captivating and full of surprises.

The movie is based on a story "Lady Windermere's Fan" by Oscar Wilde, so you might already know what's it all about. I have no idea if and how much the movie might be different from the book, but I'm looking forward to reading it. This movie got me interested in Oscar Wilde. It's mostly because it contains so many adorable puns and aphorisms, like:
"Every saint has a past. Every sinner has a future."
"Do you think she would look at you if you were poor?" - "Do you think I would look at her if she was ugly?"

On the other hand, this abundance of brilliant verbal humour is also mildly disturbing. When every third sentence is something witty, it gets a bit tiring to follow. I mean, you don't want the soup that is all water, but this movie is like the soup with almost no water in it, and that's not too good either.

In spite of that, I've watched the movie three times by now and I absolutely recommend it. A lady friend of mine watched it twice and loved it, too.
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on 4 April 2011
As with a good book, they say that a good film should make you feel as though you are there. This is a marvellous combination of seduction and scandal, based on Oscar Wilde's "Lady Windermere's Fan", set in and around Amalfi in the 1930s (rather than Victorian London) amidst beautiful scenery, and I could almost feel a part of it. I have not read Lady Windermere's Fan, but if it is anything like this film, I might be tempted. You have to feel some compassion for Meg Windermere and, ultimately, Mrs Erlynne, but at least there is a happy outcome. Highly recommended.
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VINE VOICEon 7 August 2006
The script is beautiful with lots of wit and eloquence that isn't seen very often in movies. The acting is fabulous and one can't help but get very attached to the characters. Plus the movie isn't without its twists which is a bonus.

Helen Hunt plays a lady who is hated by women and loved by men for the simple reason that she is an infamous mistress who lives off the money of her suitors. After the unhappy wives conspire to have her cut off from their husbands' purse strings she hatches a plan to travel to Amalfi and find new blood.

Meg (Scarlet Johansson) is married to a rich American, Robert, who ends up being blackmailed by Helen Hunt after he goes home with her one day. His friend John in the meanwhile has developed feelings for Meg and after hearing the gossip about Robert and his mistress decides that it is time to strike.

In addition to these characters are the numerous Americans on holiday in Italy who have nothing better to do than spy on others, gossip and party away thus ensuring there is never a dull moment in the little town on the Italian coast.

This is a must see movie and Helen Hunt shines in her lead role.
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on 25 March 2017
Slow to get started but enjoyed it in the end.
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