An Ideal Husband/A-,A

Miramax/1999/98m/ANA 1.85

    Delicious drawing room comedy from the Oscar Wilde play directed and adapted by Oliver Parker. Parker seems to find his stride after tripping over Othello in his directing debut. Droll dialog makes listening as important as watching this very fine comedy.

This beauty really digs deep.©Miramax

     It's another season of London politics as debate rages in papers and Parliament over possible funding of Argentine canal. Meanwhile, the social scene is dominated by the clever ramblings of Lord Goring, whose vacuous life observations are the delight of London society. Goring is the lynchpin as politics, sex, social climbing and scandal clash in the posh drawing rooms of upper crust Britain. What moral transgressions lie is the path of progress and political ambition? Does every man have a past and who is truly pure of heart. An Ideal Husband explores these questions in rhythms of farcical whimsy honed with an  edge of self-knowing satire.
     Rupert Everett is outstanding in the role of Lord Goring,  the confidant of Lord and Lady Chiltern. Jeremy Northram as Chiltern, bringing a hint of Robert Donat to his political demeanor, stands up handsomely to the jibes of Everett and Cate Blanchett gives another grand performance as Chiltern's lily white wife. The wonderful surprise is Julianne Moore as Mrs. Cheveley. Moore's entrance on the social scene sets the drawing rooms on end and Moore captures the screen with an incandescent and mischievous magic. A far cry from the space cadets typically assayed on film by the talented actress.
    Director and writer Parker keeps the action moving from carriage rides in  the park to ball rooms to boudoirs. The timing is excellent, with few lags between delights and happy twists and turns.  Production design from Michael Howells is extraordinary. Sumptuous sets are filled with period details that bring Victorian England to grand life. Caroline Harris's costumes are dazzling and David Johnson captures it all beautifully on camera. 

     An outstanding transfer, An Ideal Husband is alive with glorious detail as crisp as any I've seen on DVD. Take a gander at all that jewelry. Each pearl is finely delineated. The magnificent carpets are ablaze in complex color patters without bleeding onto each other.  Even the score adds a droll note or two to the proceedings.




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