James Ivory meets Henry James...again. This is the third James novel (1979's The Europeans and 1984's The Bostonians) adapted by the Merchant Ivory filmmaking team, known for deftly bringing the quality and detail of past centuries to life. And in this two-hour-plus edition of classic Ivory soap, the craftsmen behind the film are definitely in their element, jumping between England and Italy during the early 1900s.
And the characters? They're emotionally confused art collectors, aristocrats and wealthy socialites who may or may not be jumping into one another's beds. All actors are elegant, with Uma Thurman as a beautiful, if slightly nuts, American expatriate newly married to billionaire Yank Nick Nolte (who holds his own rather well) but still in love with Italian prince Jermey Northam. And behind all of that romantic confusion, the setting and scenery is captivating, natch. Which is well and good, if you're into lengthy drawing room discourse. If not, then you're probably better off sitting out this period.