From the Video Shop: An Ideal Husband

Neil Turner

1999 - United Kingdom / United States - 97 minutes

Writer and Director - Oliver Parker

Internet Movie Database User Rating - 6.9/10 - Link to IMDb

Roger Ebert's Rating - 3 of 4 Stars - Link to Ebert's Review

My Rating - 4 of 5 Stars

An Ideal Husband is a feast of exquisite language and subtle intrigues. If you have not seen this version of the play, you would be served well by a viewing.

This comedy of manners by Oscar Wilde has been given its just due in the production starring Rupert Everett, Julianne Moore, Cate Blanchett, Minnie Driver, and Jeremy Northam. These actors are excellent in their parts, but Moore and Everett stand out in their roles of the blackmailer with the heart of gold and the shallow ne'er-do-well whose crafty brilliance saves the day.

John Wood, who plays Everett's exasperated father, should also be mentioned. One might say that his performance is over the top, but that is exactly what is needed for the part.

The film starts slowly, so you must have patience in order to be rewarded. If you are not familiar with the play you might be helped in your appreciation of the film by viewing the featurette included on the DVD. It serves as a worthy preface for the film.

It is interesting to note that, about the time this play was being written, Wilde was about to become involved in his trial for being a homosexual the results of which would send him to prison and destroy much of his spirit.

How ironic that the social conventions that Wilde so expertly and exquisitely barbed would have such a tragic influence upon his personal life.  Enjoy the film as a look at history and as a reminder that social attitudes continue to exert considerable influence upon human behavior.

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Harvard Square Commentary, January 22, 2007