From The Movie Snob
Brideshead Revisited (B-). People who see this movie will almost certainly be familiar with the novel (which I am) and/or with the Reagan-era miniseries starring Jeremy Irons (which I am not). Indeed, the novel is one of my favorite books, and I heard things that made me expect the movie would not be faithful to its perspective. Turns out that the movie virtually stands the novel’s point on its head, but it is sufficiently faithful to the book’s plot that I still somewhat enjoyed it. The story (set in the 1930s) is about what happens to Charles Ryder (Matthew Goode, Stoker), a non-religious young Brit of no social standing or wealth, when he goes off to Oxford and befriends a troubled classmate named Sebastian Flyte. Lord Sebastian Flyte, that is, for he is an aristocrat, and he comes from a family of aristocrats that is eccentric indeed. They are Catholic, you see, and though they are not all good Catholics, they all take it very seriously. Ryder falls in love with the family estate, Brideshead, and soon enough is attracted to the family’s older daughter, Julia. Anyway, the novel treats Catholicism seriously and respectfully (not surprising, since author Evelyn Waugh was a convert). The movie, however, generally treats it as little more than a pathology, invented and perpetrated solely to make us feel guilty about enjoying ourselves, especially poor homosexual Sebastian. (Although to be fair, Charles’s atheism hardly seems to make him any happier). It is truly amazing how out-of-sync the movie and book are on this point, and I certainly cannot recommend the movie to anyone who can not first been inoculated by reading the book. On the plus side, the movie makers did a good job of handling the most important matter, which was properly casting Julia Flyte (who along with Anne Stanton in All the King’s Men is one of my two great literary crushes). The actress who plays Julia, Hayley Atwell (Captain America), was previously unknown to me, is exactly pretty enough for the part and handles the acting side of it with aplomb as well. Emma Thompson (Last Chance Harvey) plays the formidable matriarch Lady Marchmain.