- 2.35 : 1
When the charming aristocrat Sebastian invites Charles Ryder to his family's estate, Charles becomes seduced by the opulent lifestyle of the Marchmain family, and by Julia, Sebastian's sister. As their romance deepens, repercussions follow, and Charles discovers that at Brideshead, love, money and power come at a price. It's a spellbinding story you'll want to revisit again and again.
"For director Julian Jarrold (Becoming Jane), this sumptuous production represents a two-fold challenge: taking on a classic novel and a celebrated television production (Brideshead Revisited premiered on PBS in 1982). Thankfully, he's up to the task. Adapted by Andrew Davies (Pride and Prejudice) and Jeremy Brock (Mrs. Brown), Evelyn Waugh's 1945 text tracks the hard-won maturation of artist-turned-soldier Charles Ryder (Match Point's Matthew Goode). At the optimistic outset, the middle-class striver enters Oxford where he meets Sebastian Flyte (Perfume's Ben Whishaw), black-sheep scion of the Catholic Marchmain clan. Through his hedonistic friend, Ryder gets to know Flyte's sister, Julia (Hayley Atwell), and the dynamic changes. Were this a Jane Austen adaptation, Ryder's financial shortcomings would present the biggest obstacle, but the indomitable Lady Marchmain (Emma Thompson, cast against type) concentrates her disapproval on Ryder's atheism. Sebastian, on the other hand, wants Charles for himself; his drinking accelerates once he realizes Ryder loves Julia more. As World War I gives way to II, Ryder tangles with the Marchmains until forced to choose between freedom and compromise. In the end, comparing a two-hour movie to a 12-hour series makes as much sense as comparing a drawing to a sculpture. Both qualify as art, but one reveals more dimensions than the other. Like the series, Jarrold's narrative loses some steam once the focus shifts from Sebastian to Julia, but Goode's deft performance as Charles Ryder is just as riveting as that of Jeremy Irons before him." --Kathleen C. Fennessy
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