The Golden Bowl


Directed by: James Ivory
Written by:Ruth Prawer Jhabvala
Starring: Uma Thurman, Kate Beckinsale, Jeremy Northam, Nick Nolte, Anjelica Huston
Released: December 26, 2001
Grade: A-

In a delightful tale adapted from the novel by Henry James, socialite Fanny Assingham (Huston) has introduced Maggie Verver (Beckinsale) to Prince Amerigo (Northam) and the two have become engaged.  Since her mother passed away, Maggie shares a close relationship with her father, Adam Verver (Nolte), one of the world’s most wealthy men.

Not revealed to Maggie is that her closest friend, Charlotte Stant (Thurman) has a romantic past with Amerigo.  Once married, Maggie suggests her father marry Charlotte and after doing so, we have a complicated foursome.

Charlotte is married to Adam but longs for Amerigo.  Amerigo is married to Maggie but is torn between his affections for both Maggie and Charlotte.  The large amount of time Maggie spends with her father makes her oblivious to Charlotte’s and Amerigo’s deception.  Fully aware of everyone’s feelings is Fanny but she’s keeping tight-lipped since it was her who introduced Maggie to Amerigo without telling her of Charlotte’s past.

A great intricate romance could only come from an equally great novel.  Henry James’s works have a magical ability to translate well on screen.  The stories are dated but when it comes to the complications of love, nothing has changed in the past 100 years.  Recent adaptations of his other works include The Portrait Of A Lady, The Wings Of The Dove and Washington Square - all films worth seeing if you haven’t already.

The Golden Bowl is a Merchant-Ivory Production which again will prick the ears of those knowledgeable of their works.  James Ivory and Ismail Merchant are renowned for quality period dramas.  Just think of Remains Of The Day, A Room With A View, A Soldier’s Daughter Never Cries and Howard’s End and you’ll know what I speak of.

The cast are well chosen and vital to developing the film’s romance.  Their performances provide an awareness of what each character is feeling and thinking without giving all the cards away.  As time passes, the suspense builds as all come closer to finding the “flaw” in their relationships.

The Golden Bowl should provide perfect entertainment for filmgoers this Christmas who are tired of the commercialism of Vanilla Sky, The Fellowship Of The Ring and Monsters Inc.  A delectable tale to enjoy with a few friends and a hot cup of coffee.