This is a highly enjoyable costume drama. Solely as a film it is better than average. As a vehicle for a large number of very skilled actors it is outstanding. Witherspoon is more than competent, delivering the leading role with skill. The rest of the cast also turn in highly entertaining performances. James Purefoy is more than a foil for the Hollywood leading lady, he has merely to twitch his face for us to realise his moral frailty. Bob Hoskins is the the happy curmudgeon, Eileen Atkins thrills as the rich and terrifying aunt, Geraldine McEwan plays the other aunt as court jester (this aunt is much more intelligent than her family assume), Jonathan Rhys Meyers could not be more self-absorbed as George Osborne, and Douglas Hodge slums as the apparently dull dutiful son, delivering amusement with looks of mild surprise. Jim Broadbent, as ever, adds great value to proceedings. Gabriel Byrne exudes intent from afar in the first half of the film and is suitably disconcerting as he moves into the foreground in the latter part of the film. And finally Tony Maudsley tops and tails the film as the completely amiable Jos Sedley. Aside from the strong performances the references to India add vitality though there is, as with the Passage to India, a sense of mutual imcomprehension in the encounter. The film as a whole makes for fine entertainment. The individual parts are even more interesting.
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