Brideshead Revisited

2008

Drama / Romance

200
Rotten Tomatoes Critics - Certified Fresh 62%
IMDb Rating 6.7 10 11,788

Synopsis


Downloaded times
August 26, 2020

Director

Cast

Ben Whishaw as Joseph
Felicity Jones as Cordelia Flyte
Hayley Atwell as Julia Flyte
Matthew Goode as Ben Calder
720p.BLU 1080p.BLU
1.19 GB
1280*720
English 2.0
PG-13
23.976 fps
133 min
P/S N/A / N/A
2.45 GB
1920×1080
English 2.0
PG-13
23.976 fps
133 min
P/S N/A / N/A

Movie Reviews

Reviewed by Chris Knipp 8 / 10 / 10

"Brideshead Revisited" revisited

Those who have not seen the 1981 Granada television miniseries about the aristocratic English Catholic Marchmain family, their spiritual torments, and their conflicted friend, Charles Ryder, may be at an advantage in watching this new adaptation. That series was superb and took the time to do more than justice to the satirical Evelyn Waugh's uncharacteristically solemn and lengthy 1945 novel. This film version, much briefer than the miniseries but not exactly short at 135 minutes, has one advantage: it shows off the plot in sharp outline. The miniseries may actually blur that basic element. It was hypnotic, rolling on from week to week for those who first saw it gathering an accumulation of nostalgia and melancholy, beautifully mounted and graced by the likes of John Gielgud, Laurence Olivier, Claire Bloom, and Stéphane Audran. It also put Jeremy Irons on the map in the central role of Charles, and by his own admission made him "fall out of love with jeans" through wearing the elegant clothes of a well-turned-out young man of the 1920's. The miniseries can take the time to develop important minor characters. The book is an elaborate portrait of a generation and an era. Waugh wrote short witty novels mostly. But this time, writing about wealth and grandeur and Catholicism, he waxes poetic and goes into near-Proustian detail. Sebastian's grand family draws the awestruck middle-class Charles in and eventually spits him out, leaving him shattered, but lastingly impressed by the power of the Marchmains' Catholic faith. As the tale opens (in all versions), he's reminiscing about it all much later as an army officer at the end of World War II ironically posted at Brideshead, the glorious estate where Sebastian grew up--a place Charles came to know intimately even though it was never fully accessible to him. Maybe Waugh in his novel was more concerned with the nostalgia for a prewar life he imagined as splendid and carefree, for a class to which he aspired, and more self-consciously dwelling on his infatuation with Catholicism, to which he was a convert. But the story, as we see in this new film, turns on a kind of love triangle--one heavy-laden with sexual and spiritual conflict. Charles Ryder (Matthew Goode) and Sebastian (Ben Whishaw) enter into an intense romantic and alcoholic friendship when Charles comes for his first year at Oxford. The film carries this a bit further than either the novel or the TV version, showing the two handsome young men not only often affectionately and playfully arm in arm but in an intimate bathroom scene and once, anyway, sharing a lingering drunken kiss. This despite the fact that a relative sternly warned Charles to avoid "sodomites" when he first arrived at university. Whishaw (of 'Perfume' and 'I'm Not There') has a touching, wispy, vulnerable quality that distinguishes him from the TV Anthony Andrews, whose Sebastian is more brassy, slick, confident and social. When Charles meets Sebastian's sister Julia (Hayley Atwall in the film; the impossibly elegant Diana Quick in the miniseries), and lights a cigarette for her in a car, he immediately hears, in the words of the novel, echoed in the TV narration, "a thin bat's squeak of sexuality," and the equation changes. He begins to desire Julia. Apart from her unmistakable allure she's a way for Charles to possess the Marchmain world more completely. This, especially in the film, immediately clouds the relationship with Sebastian, who grows cold, and simultaneously sinks deeper into dipsomania. In the miniseries there is more time for Charles's profound infatuation with his aristocratic young Catholic friend and his magnificent world to sink in and for Sebastian's decline into alcoholism to unwind with slow, horrible inevitability. The latter is memorably described in the book (repeated in the TV narration) as feeling like "a blow, expected, repeated, falling on a bruise, with no smart or shock of surprise, only a dull and sickening pain and the doubt whether another one like it could be borne." It has to be rushed a bit in the film. But the process isn't falsified, only made more clear. Their mother, Lady Marchmain (film, Emma Thompson; TV, Claire Bloom) at first finds Charles sensible and polite, a good influence for the dissolute and sexually wayward Sebastian. But she can't bend Charles to her will. It emerges that Lord Marchmain (film, Michael Gambon; TV, Laurence Olivier) has long ago fled from his wife's control to Venice and lives with a mistress, Cara (film, Greta Schacchi; TV, Stéphane Audran). A visit to Venice leads to kisses with Julia and also introduces Charles to another equally intoxicating kind of beauty--besides which in Italy, everybody's Catholic, but as Cara points out, of a more relaxed sort than the cloying Lady Marchmain's. Charles can't have Julia as long as Lady Marchmain is around. As circumstances turn out, their idyll is brief, and happens after Charles is married and a successful painter. Sebastian has wound up with a weak German man in Morocco, in terrible health, a saintly drunkard. Julia and Lord Marchmain have last minute returns to their faith and Charles is left out in the cold. Viewing all three versions, book, TV, screen, one sees the story isn't about Charles or about anybody really. It's about temptation. It's about the world between the wars, through eyes clouded by longing. The adaptation is very creditable. It shows the appeal of the story. Those who are entranced by it ought to read Waugh's book and rent DVD's of the Granada miniseries--which was about the best thing ever done for television. It delivers long passages from the book verbatim. Waugh was best in his short witty early satires but he turns many a good phrase in this, his most popular (and for a while his own favorite) book. Then he rejected it, and one can see why. Its sentimentality is so unlike him at his best. But it adapts well.

Reviewed by Philby-3 10 / 10 / 10

A sketchy remake

Is this film a worthy interpretation of "Brideshead Revisited"? Well, up to a point, Lord Copper, as another one of Evelyn Waugh's characters was wont to say. First, scriptwriter Andrew Davies, a past master of adaptation of great and not-so great literary works, has put the focus on the Charles and Julia love story rather than the Charles and Sebastian 'romantic friendship' as Cara, Lord Marchmain's Italian mistress puts it. The religious aspect is dealt with almost incidentally. Second, Lady Marchmain, as played by Emma Thompson, is a very grim person with total emotional control over her children and whose particular Christian beliefs means that she is indifferent to their suffering as to her this life is a mere precursor to the glorious afterlife – the same attitude as a 9/11 hi-jacker in fact. She has none of the sweetness that Claire Bloom brought to the 1981 TV series. Third, some of the performances owe a good deal to those in the TV series, especially Matthew Goode as Charles who has an uncanny likeness to Jeremy Irons. And of course Castle Howard reprises its role as Brideshead. Some characters were reduced to ciphers; for example Bridey who played by Simon Jones stole several scenes in 1981 but the part is reduced to a non-entity here. Michael Gambon, a consummate actor, gives us a new take on Lord Marchmain to compare with Lawrence Olivier's earlier version. Overall, though, I was left with the impression this film has not much to say which is new. Like the recent feature film version of "Pride and Prejudice", it gives a broad outline of the story but misses out much of the rich context provided by the minor characters. Oh, read the book instead.

Reviewed by hughman55 10 / 10 / 10

"Be a good boy. For God. And for Mummy..."

That infantalizing line, spoken by the staunchly Catholic Lady Marchmain (Emma Thompson), to her grown son Sebastian (Ben Wishaw), pretty much sums up what is at the heart of this film. Lady Marchmain hovers like a dark cloud of oppression over Brideshead Manor. It is still the 15th Century and she is leading the Crusades. Everyone in her wake will suffer. She is a woman without a soul and she has filled that emptiness with equal amounts of religion and oblivion. Too late she will realize that her children have grown to hate her. Too late for her and too late for them. Emma Thompson plays Lady Marchmane with a placid beauty underneath which are rivulets of ice cold water. She never says or does anything outwardly horrible. She doesn't have to. She can kill with kindness; the most insidious weapon of all. Her son, Sebastian, bears the scars of her mothering from the first time we see him. He is a vomitous drunk at Cambridge and probably not even yet 20. It is there, away from her and the prison that was his family home, that he meets a fellow student, Charles Ryder, played by Matthew Goode. When Charles tells Sebastian that he is an aspiring artist Sebastian's response, without hesitation is, "Would you like to paint me?" It is a slightly self-centered but disarmingly innocent reaction. Charles's answer, "Why yes", is equally charming and oddly compliant. With this simple exchange we know fully who these two individuals are and of the limitations that will strain their relationship to its breaking point. I don't think you could distill this expansive story down to two-plus hours any better than what is done here. The screenplay is well crafted and does justice to its original source material. Director Julian Jarrold floats the story wistfully through a haze of remembrance. It is sentimental with all of the best possible implications that word entails. The performances by Wishaw, Goode, and Thompson are without equal. The cinematography is grand, scintillating, and necessarily oppressive at times. The score is sweeping when we caper upon Oxford for the first time, endearing when Sebastian looks longingly at Charles, and gets out of the way completely when silence is the louder, and more necessarily personal, underlying voice. But the honest adaptation of Waugh's famous novel is perhaps the most compelling. We are guided through the experiences of the incompletely formed Charles Ryder as he is drawn into the world of Brideshead Manor, the Flyte family, and a love triangle that will engulf him. It is a love triangle where no one in the triangle is in love with anyone in the triangle and will render him emotionally destitute for life. As a person, he is so blank that he can be anything, or nothing, to anyone. And in the end that makes him nobody; the least desired outcome of all for him. Charles's first love, unrequited by him, is Sebastian Flyte. Sebastian is the youngest of three and a self-imposed outcast. Wishaw gives us a Sebastian who is purposeful but frail. He creates a character more vivid than the one written in Waugh's novel with more childishness and petulance. For all of his flaws though, his willfulness, his alcoholism, his self absorption, he is above all, sympathetic. The damage done to him by his mothers faith is apparent from his first appearance on screen. She has religiously and spiritually eviscerated him from the moment that, as a child, she first suspected he might turn out to be gay. And it is between he and Charles that occurs what I would call the most painful screen kiss of all time. You almost need to look away. This is the crystalline moment that reveals the yawning abyss inside of one man and the awkward superficiality of the other. They will know one another, uncomfortably, forever. Ben Wishaw as Sebastian, Matthew Goode as Charles Ryder, and Emma Thompson as Lady Marchmain, create a triangulation of love, control, and antagonism who's tension is felt throughout this film. And it is Lady Marchmain who cleaves a swath of unexamined Catholisism through the lives of all those around her. Consequences be damned. I had never heard of Ben Wishaw when I saw this film in 2008. He is a once in a lifetime actor. What he has done since then, and his "Sebastian" here, speak for themselves. Matthew Goode is equally brilliant in a role with a more confined range. He is the innocent bystander by the wreck that is Brideshead Manor and the Marchmain family. It is a more difficult character to develop who's only function is to bear witness to those around you with barely one foot in the story line. But he does it to great effect with accommodation and restraint. These are amazing performances but not the kind that get Oscar attention. They're too good. This big screen version of Waugh's novel is truly breathtaking. This cast of Wishaw, Goode, and Thompson, I could watch over and over again. The comic relationship between Charles and his emotionally sterile father is just enough of a breather to be able to get through the turbulence at Brideshead Manor. Centuries of emotional decay lead to sad and unfulfilling lives. Saddest among them is Sebastian's. His salvation comes with his decent into alcoholism where no one can reach him. They no longer try to help and he therefore can no longer fail them. Between he, Lady Marchmain, his sister, and Charles, he may actually have made out better. It is not a happy story but rather one of reluctant acceptance; like all acceptance is. I don't believe that comparisons between this feature length film and the 13 hour mini series from the early 80's are useful. The only question is whether or not it is true to Waugh's novel. It is.

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