An Ideal Husband

I admit to not being much of a movie watcher in the past few years, and though I’ve been involved on a board level with a small theater festival for a while it’s been years and years since I’ve seen classic theater.

So the other day I was flipping through the television channels I happened across a movie that I found interesting. I didn’t know whether it was a relatively new movie, an oldish movie, a movie written recently (period English costuming obviously from well back and riding on horseback and in carriages) or a movie made from an old book. Since I’ve been re-reading “Pride and Prejudice” I was particularly curious and found both the acting and the storyline of the movie quite decent.

So I watched to the end and picked out some names from the credits, went to the internet and discovered that the movie was “An Ideal Husband” from 1999, based on an Oscar Wilde play and starring some names that I recognize; Cate Blanchett, Julianne Moore, Minnie Driver (that I didn’t recognize their faces is an indication how little I watch movies). Ah, I thought, that explains the quality of the writing as well as the light tone of the play. Then, thinking back, it also explained the emphasis on witty lines.

I don’t know much Oscar Wilde but he was definitely a quality writer. It’s reassuring, and probably self-congratulatory, to find something that you believe to be quality to turn out to be written by a an accepted master.

Now I missed some parts so I’m not entirely qualified to judge, but I don’t see how at the very end when the wife admits, almost as a hiccup, that she lied, and this hiccup is enough to make her husband smile and immediately change his mind about his friend even though he was dead set against the friend marrying the sister moments before. And speaking of which I also didn’t see much in the way of a reason for the friend and sister to come together. Perhaps I expected too much in the way of Austen-like sniping at each other to set up the ending change of heart but the attraction felt a little hollow to me.

I suppose I should read the play to see how much of the weakness is the result of the adaptation to the movie setting but unfortunately I’ve got too much on my plate these days.

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