The Golden Bowl

Rated NR

Oscar Wilde once said that Henry James, the author of The Golden Bowl, wrote fiction as if it were a painful duty. I get the same sense from the films of Merchant and Ivory, so this Merchant-Ivory/Henry James team-up seems like a natural. The movie opens with a scene from Renaissance Italy. In a misty castle, a lord finds his wife in bed with his son, and has them both killed. The story then jumps to the early part of this century, where a descendent of the lord is having an affair with his stepmother. If things aren't obvious enough yet, all the characters watch a play wherein a lord kills his wife and son for having and affair. Then someone notes, "It's just like Hamlet," in case you haven't gotten the play-within-a-play reference. Largely predictable and obvious in its efforts to seem high-brow, The Golden Bowl benefits from a nice performance by Nick Nolte as a gentle billionaire, but it suffers from an awful performance by Uma Thurman as his faithless wife. Still, if you've liked previous Merchant-Ivory offerings, this one will probably hold the same appeal.

Film Credits

Director: James Ivory

Cast: Uma Thurman, Nick Nolte and Angelica Houston

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