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Customer Review

on 20 August 2008
An intelligent and unusual drama, based on A.S. Byatt's short story Eugenia Morpho. In mid 19th century England, a penniless naturalist who has lost his prized specimens from the Amazon in a shipwreck (I think the movie meant him to be a young Charles Darwin, though an incident where his field work possessions were lost in a shipwreck happened to his colleague Alfred Russell Wallace) gets a job cataloging specimens held by the Alabaster family in their country estate. He will eventually marry their daughter Eugenia (Patsy Kensit), despite the fierce opposition of her brother Edgar. Not long after having children with her, he will discover a terrible secret haunting the family. A cousin of the Alabasters, the bookish Matty (Kristin Scott Thomas) will turn out to be his only friend and ally. At times the movie looks like a strange cross between a film by James Ivory and a film by Peter Greenaway, with the Alabaster women carrying bright colored clothes that suggests different sort of insects. Even if you don't take very seriously the entomology references throughout that compare insects with humans, they are nonetheless fun. And the denouement is terrific.
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