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Overall Rating

Awesome: 16.98%
Worth A Look58.49%
Average: 20.75%
Pretty Bad: 1.89%
Total Crap: 1.89%

4 reviews, 29 user ratings

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Ideal Husband, An
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by Dust For Eyes

"The importance of being a good film"
4 stars

Oliver Parker showed us with his adaptation of Othello (with Kenneth Brannagh as the darkly scheming Iago) that he is quite partial to filming a classic text. For his second major effort he tuns his hand to the wit, and more wit of Oscar Wilde.

Wilde, at the height of his popularity, entertained and delighted the people of London society. He was critical of its shallowness and yet reveled in it at the same time. Even before his dreadful banishment he knew how easy it was to fall out of society's favour.

He gave praise and criticism of society in pretty much equal proportions. He was able to get away with this probably because partly it was true, but mostly because he did it so well. His witticisms are famous and anybody who has come across Wilde generally has a favourite line.

Wilde via Parker's screenplay gives us an example of the banality of London society as well as some of its more noble qualities in 'An Ideal Husband'.

Sir Robert Chiltern (Northam) and his wife Gertrude (Blanchett), an honourable couple, are the toast of society with their success in politics. Sir Robert is on the verge of being a minister in the House of Commons and Gertrude is involved in women's politics. The fact that they are wealthy also helps their popularity.

Sir Robert is preparing to address the House, on a matter of a canal project in Argentina. His speech will be crucial to the future of the project and he plans to rightly condemn it as being corrupt.

Enter Mrs. Laura Cheveley (Moore) who has invested heavily in the canal project and is not keen on losing her money. To persuade Sir Robert to support the project she plans to reveal the not-so-honourable source of his income and thus ruining his standing in society and politics.

Who is to save Sir Robert? Why none other than Lord Arthur Goring (Everett) of course! Lord Goring, whose arrogance is thankfully only surpassed by his wit and charm, is the embodiment of Wilde's view of society. A fervent student of sloth, he is first seen on screen recovering from his usual hangover and probably trying to remember the woman's name who climbs out of his bed.

Consistent with Wilde's view of society though, underneath Lord Goring's banal exterior is a noble heart and he is keen to help his friend, Sir Robert.

And so off Lord Goring stumbles inadvertently to the rescue while trying to fight off his father's (Wood) insistence that he do something with his life and trying to work out whether he would be an ideal husband to marry Sir Robert's sister, Mabel (Driver).

This sumptuous production starts off with a barrage of droll dialogue that leaves you wishing that you just a fraction of their wit. After the beginning though Parker settles things down to the drama of the piece quite effectively and we are sent on a delightful ride.

Everett, as Lord Goring, is the natural favourite of the film and is just right with his lovable blend of charisma, glamourous style and heart of gold. Vaughan, as Lord Goring's butler, Phipps, is also fun. Northam is suitably noble as Sir Robert and Moore is quite the seductress as Mrs Cheveley.

Driver and Blanchett though seem a little awkward. Maybe Blanchett was meant to be playing an awkward character, but Driver just does not quite click as the ditzy upper class English woman.

With wonderful costuming and look to the film, Parker gives us an engaging and shrewd film. The scene set in a theatre showing Wilde's 'The Importance Of Being Earnest', the appearance of Wilde himself and the mention of a Lord Windermere (Wilde wrote a play, 'Lady Windermere's Fan') are also nice additions to this splendid film.

This is a very English film about morality, and honesty and when it is best to be economical with their use. Parker has made a successful transition of Wilde's play outlining these themes that were so close to Wilde's own tragic life.

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originally posted: 10/08/99 20:01:49
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User Comments

7/29/09 the dork knight A lot funnier than most period films (Everett is in almost every scene, that helps) 5 stars
6/19/06 chienne Hopefully a revival of Wilde, wonderful, uppercrust Poms at their snobby best 4 stars
9/24/03 JC Wilde isn't rolling in his grave, but this adaptation probably wouldn't make him happy. 5 stars
9/02/03 Valerie I absolutly adored the move, its the kind to watch when you want a silly romance. 5 stars
4/17/03 Shadaan Felfeli Very British, Very Nice. 4 stars
8/27/02 Christopher Wonderful script and acting. Great cast. 4 stars
6/09/02 Teresa Worth seeing if you like English period flicks like I do. 4 stars
3/31/02 Marcia Lartz Generally good cast wasted in this bore. 2 stars
1/02/02 Paco Not as good as expected, Rupert Everett is wonderful 3 stars
3/15/01 Richard Wright Sorta good, with fine acting and a witty script full of twists. Not much else to say... 4 stars
12/25/99 elfpunkt not too shabby.. 4 stars
11/29/99 Mic Wilde is excellent. Is he going to get a film revival like Shakespeare? 4 stars
11/16/99 gnomical any director that loves oscar wilde's work the way i do has my vote. 4 stars
11/13/99 hai le what is the most ethical major isue of this movie 4 stars
10/20/99 Trish Clever, funny 5 stars
10/12/99 Duck Pretty good 3 stars
10/05/99 Joel Harwood Funny Funny Funny Oscar Oscar Oscar 5 stars
7/31/99 Cage Not as bad as I had expected. Just average. 3 stars
7/26/99 Suzanne Intelligent AND funny - what a rare combination. 5 stars
7/22/99 Suzz a lot of fun. Enjoyed it. 4 stars
7/21/99 Heather To love this movie is the start of a lifelong relationship with dry, witty period pieces 5 stars
7/10/99 Sally Clever, wonderfully dry humor. Rich cast. 5 stars
7/07/99 Brian M charming old fashioned humor, how refreshing & Rupert Rulez! 4 stars
7/02/99 Costars Elegant, fun & charming with one casting mistake 4 stars
7/01/99 Lisa witty, funny, Cate and Rupert are excellent in this wonderfully adapted Wilde play 5 stars
7/01/99 nobody yawn 1 stars
6/30/99 fkondor OK if you like to watch the boom mike bobbing above the actors' heads constantly 3 stars
6/29/99 Malbert It was cute-Rupert Everett&Julianne Moore were great 4 stars
6/18/99 Mr Showbiz Lightweight and clumsy, it gets by on the spirited performance of Cate Blanchett. 3 stars
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  18-Jun-1999 (PG-13)


  14-Oct-1999 (M)

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