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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 Stephen Groenewegen

"An ideal cast; shame about the adaptation."
3 stars

Rupert Everett is an ideal Wildean protagonist. He delivers Wilde's witty dialogue in An Ideal Husband with relish and perfect timing. Lord Goring's victims feel charmed, even flattered, when they're being insulted.

He's the standout in a carefully selected cast. All the principals are a good match for the descriptions that Wilde originally gave them in 1895. Julianne Moore is an excellent Lady Cheveley - the play's icy, blackmailing villain. Occasionally she seems a little too precise with her dialogue, and struggles with the unfamiliar English accent. Jeremy Northam and Cate Blanchett are fine, individually, as the blackmailed politician and his morally upright wife. Unfortunately they have no chemistry when they're together. Minnie Driver's ditzy Mabel Chiltern suffers most in the transition from stage to screen. Her character loses many of her witty lines; she is more of a petulant child than an equal sparring partner for Lord Goring.

Wilde's play was more than a comedy of manners about the search for a husband. He touched on issues of morality, wealth and the class system. Director Oliver Parker (who also adapted the play) shifts the focus to matrimonial matters and cuts many of Wilde's speeches about politics and the abuse of power. The play loses its context, and comes to resemble Pride and Prejudice (without the benefit of Jane Austen's attention to detail). The background and motivation of characters are diminished, and the actors are left floundering as a result. Parker also repeats the mistake he made when adapting Othello - leaving the end of the play virtually intact and cutting heavily from earlier scenes. The denouement of An Ideal Husband's final scene seems endless, and Lady Cheveley is dispatched too early and too easily.

Parker's best innovation is presenting the climactic Parliamentary debate on screen, but I could have done without the gratuitous staging of The Importance of Being Earnest, complete with appearance by Wilde. Parker would have better served his talented cast by allowing them to tell the story as Wilde intended it.

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originally posted: 12/23/99 09:38:24
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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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