Tuesday, September 12, 2017

Tulip Fever: Monday, September 11 2017

Tulip Fever (2017) is a historical drama film, based on the book by Deborah Moggach (69). Director Justin Chadwick (48) ensures that the film flows smoothly. The actors all work well, and Judi Dench is practically unrecognizable as the Abbess of St. Ursula's, but does a good job, of course.

Cinematographer Eigil Bryld has done an exceptional job of the cinematography. Each setting looks like a Dutch painting from the 1600s. As the film is set in Vermeer's Amsterdam, during the height of the Tulip fever, this is totally appropriate. The original paintings in the film are by Jamie Routley. The costumes by Michael O'Connor, hair and make-up by Daniel Phillips, and production by Simon Elliott and editing by Rick Russell, combine to add to the creation of a film that is a feast for the eyes. The delightful music by Danny Elfman (64) adds a feast for the ears.

The sex scenes, I am glad to say, are not too explicit, and are filmed as artistic portrayals of human primates coupling. The impression is given that the sex is not too pleasant from the viewpoint of hygiene, nor too fulfilling as to the end result. One of our chief character's "little soldier" is not up to the task. The lighting is exquisite, and the bodies are arranged to remind of paintings by great artists. A lot of the sexual groping is done over and under clothing. I'm not sure what that is meant to convey. It didn't grab me. I find it difficult to understand why it has been given an 'R' rating.

Tom Stoppard (80) wrote the screenplay. He is a much-awarded writer of highest repute. This script will not be seen as his finest. Deborah Moggach has written a huge body of work, including These Foolish Things which was made into the film, The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel, so it would seem reasonable to expect that the story of Tulip Fever would be fairly gripping. This, it is not. Perhaps it is the direction that is the problem. I found I couldn't care less about any of the characters. They are not even particularly pleasant. They almost seemed to be models for the lovely sets, not real people. It would appear that is how the director viewed them. Could it be that this was his intent?

This is a beautiful film from the point of view of "Art", but leaves the feeling that the story was just an excuse for everything else. What makes directors think that an audience would like this? Or even more pertinent to the $25,000,000 cost to make the film, what makes anyone think that any but the very few would actually pay to see it? So far, it has made $4,500,000.

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