Where I Watched it: Netflix
English Audio Description Provided By International Digital Center
Written By Liz Gutman
I have not read the book, so I don’t know how close to the book this actually is. My gut instinct says any film reduced to slightly over two hours of film has had some content cut, and perhaps a better adaptation would have caused me to enjoy this frivolous effort. but as it stands, this is basically if Fifty Shades of Grey and Bridgerton had a baby.
It’s not Liz’s fault, it’s something I’ve been dealing with for a while, but there are many ways to navigate sex scenes. honestly, they’re awkward to listen to audio described, as I’m sure they are awkward to summarize in the first place. But I’ve had it with “thrusting”. It might be the easiest word to use, but in the time I’ve been reviewing TV and Films, the amount of times everyone defaults into “thrusting” has killed that word for me. it now has the opposite effect. in fact, when not used in sex, like say a man thrusting a sword, I would still groan. I need a break from thrusting.
I’m not a prude, if anything I’d rather we change up the way we describe sex scenes, so they don’t all seem so damn methodical. They can’t all be shot the same way, with all this damn thrusting. how about rocking every once in a while? “With the man on top, the couple rock in sync” or something.
I love that this was the year Emma Corrine decided to make a stand about gender neutral awards. Emma, have you seen your movies? Characters from Fraggle Rock have a better shot at Oscar nominations this year. In one film you play the other woman who outs a gay friend and gets him beaten and imprisoned. In another, you play a bored housewife who sleeps with the gardener. Neither of these come close to your Award winning performance as Diana. Not. Even. Close.
Sorry to be reductive, but after watching this film, I had a hard time really being able to tell you who was in the film outside of the main three characters, kind of like 50 Shades, or even Twilight. Even Joely Richardson feels wasted here. This is a torrid love affair film, forbidden love. A woman feels no connection, despite trying her best, with her cold husband, so she falls for the groundskeeper who happens to be hot. I wonder if she would have fallen for the groundskeeper if it had been Brendan Gleeson. Now, that would be a wild film. Leaving your wealthy but cold husband for an overweight but caring older gentleman who tends to flowers all day long. Why hasn’t anyone written that movie?
Because it’s not sexy to leave your husband for Brendan Gleeson, but Jack O’Connell, and your audience immediately sympathizes and absolves our heroine of wrongdoing. But for two hours, this is just a back and forth forbidden love, about trying not to get caught, wanting to be with someone you can’t be with, and what happens when the cat eventually always gets out of the bag.
Not only have we seen it a thousand times before, but this version didn’t do anything interesting to make me go “Thank God we have this version of this book”. Having never read the book, i always felt like I still knew where the next scene was going. I was perhaps a little surprised by the amount of sex, as I thought the book was from a period where these things were a bit more alluded to than explicitly laid out, but I have nothing to compare it to. I just know, that Netflix has a dozen movies to campaign for the Oscars, and this won’t be one of them (except perhaps in Costume Design). That money is going to more obvious choices like Pinocchio, All Quiet On The Western Front, and White Noise.
If you just want some tawdry time at the movies, then this film is for you. It’s like one of those books Fabio used to model for. But it’s way beneath the talent in this cast, who deserved better. Maybe it seemed good on paper, but in the careers of Jack O’Connell and Emma Corrine, no one will remember this.
Final Grade: D