BRIDESHEAD REVISITED (Julian Jarrold, Britain, 2008) — 6
After fearlessly predicting, I now must sheepishly retract: The new BRIDESHEAD REVISITED doesn’t suck pretty hard (thanks, Peter and Jeffrey both, for quoting that precise line). In fact, it doesn’t suck it all, though you do have to go in with low expectations and/or some boundaries set very firmly in your mind.
I went to see it Friday night with a couple of friends from Church. All three of us had low expectations (I would probably not have seen the film if I hadn’t been asked); and all three of us had more or less the same reaction — good or very good until it cops out in the coda; profiting from those low expectations; and not a complete travesty of the novel’s themes and Catholicism.
I wish I could have seen this movie innocent of the trailer and of the statements by the filmmakers, as noted in my previous post, of which I actually don’t take anything back. My expectations, though not borne out, WERE reasonable. The stridency of the score on the trailer, the emphasis given Emma Thompson as Lady Marchmain (both the weight within the trailer, and the choice of what she says and does), and the plain words of the film-makers are what they were.
It’s as if the trailer-maker was given the specific task of finding everything a Catholic fan of the novel might object to, and putting that in, to tart up the film to look like an Edwardian version of THE DA VINCI CODE
That the new BRIDESHEAD REVISITED movie will suck pretty hard.
We can already be morally certain that it will be a vulgar reduction of Sebastian in ways designed to pander to contemporary narrowness and sex obsession. Actor Ben Whishaw bluntly says he has played Sebastian as a gay person, in today’s parlance, because he and the others involved in the film needed to give the let’s-pat-him-on-the-head-since-he-can’t-have-been-expected-to-know-better-because-of-the-times treatment to Evelyn Waugh (as in principle any contemporary artiste could have to any other DWEM who needs to be pat on the head since he can’t have been expected to know better because of the times), and so they helpfully filled in the gaps left unfilled by his insufficient enlightenment. The money quotes (oops) from Whishaw:
“Sebastian knows what his nature is and believes he’s going to hell” …
The film … aims to speak to a new generation, in part by portraying Sebastian as unquestionably gay. Waugh left Sebastian’s sexuality somewhat ambiguous, and purists may balk at the inclusion of a kiss between Sebastian and Charles Ryder, his school chum and the story’s narrator (played by Matthew Goode). “The kiss was quite a bone of contention,” says Whishaw of discussions on the set. “But Waugh said as much as he could at the time he was writing [the novel], and it seems fairly clear-cut. He’s a gay character.”