DVD Review
by Kevin Carr

    MOVIE: *** (out of 5 stars)
    DVD EXPERIENCE: *** (out of 5 stars)

    Matthew Goode as CHARLES RYDER
    Ben Whishaw as SEBASTIAN FLYTE
    Hayley Atwell as JULIA FLYTE
    Emma Thompson as LADY MARCHMAIN
    Michael Gambon as LORD MARCHMAIN

    Rated PG-13
    Studio: Miramax

    Directed by: Julian Jarrold

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A free-spirited aristocrat named Sebastian (Ben Whishaw) invites Charles (Matthew Goode), a friend from college, to his estate. Over the visit, Charles and Sebastian relationship becomes strained when Charles becomes charmed by the family’s high lifestyle. Soon, Charles falls in love with Sebastian’s sister Julia (Hayley Atwell), putting further strain on the family.

This seems to have been the year for sordid period pieces. First, there was the Jerry Springer look at the Tudors with “The Other Boleyn Girl,” later followed by “The Duchess.” “Brideshead Revisited,” while taking place in a more modern time, offered the same level of decadence.

For fans of the book and the 80s miniseries, this will be excellent. This film tackles some of the issues that were in the background in earlier renditions, namely the homosexual relationship between Charles and Sebastian. But ultimately, it still has the high-class dramatic feel you’d expect from something you would have watched on PBS twenty years ago.

I carry a bit of a torch for Hayley Atwell, so anything with her in it is worth watching for a bit. At least she’s not covered with gowns and corsets like she was in “The Duchess.”

I’m not a big fan of PBS-style period pieces, and I’ve never read Evelyn Waugh’s original novel (nor do I ever plan to). This film falls in line with movies like “Atonement,” which feature sordid stories in high society. The film got off to a good start, but I have to admit that I was a bit bored as the characters were developed and the themes of religion were explored.

Call me a low-brow elitist, but I’m not a big fan of this sort of thing. In the end, I really didn’t care much for Charles as a character and got really tired of his whining.

The DVD comes with a nice selection of bonus features, including deleted scenes and a filmmaker’s audio commentary. There’s also an informative featurette called “The World of Brideshead,” which is definitely worth watching for a low-brow elitist like myself who might learn a thing or two about how much this story was beloved as a book and a miniseries.

People who loved the TV show or the book... so I guess I’m in the minority on this one.

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