Monday, July 27, 2009

Day 188: An Ideal Husband (1999) - Rank 3/5


At the mark of my ten-year anniversary, I've embarked on a mission to see many of the films that played at Baxter during my first few months that I either overlooked or simply chose to ignore at the time. First and foremost in my memory is a film that let the ushers know it was about a minute out from release by emitting an obnoxious chortle. The humorous situation? A long-time bachelor finally commits to marriage. Ah, the wit of Oscar Wilde. "An Ideal Husband" was so popular, it received a return engagement after numerous Baxter patrons mourned its departure in a very complainy way. As a result, I have a very early and very distinct memory of Bob Markwell commenting (upon hearing the aforementioned chortle from outside the theatre): "God, I'd prayed I'd never hear that laugh again."

Like most Oscar Wilde stories, there's a great deal of etiquette humor, disaffected men and women that fall into two categories: scheming or coquettish. Aristocratic Sir Robert Chiltern (Jeremy Northam) finds himself the target of blackmail by an old flame, Lady Chevely (Julienne Moore). As Chiltern struggles to keep his sordid past, as well as the blackmail, private from his wife (Cate Blanchett), he turns to the most eligible bachelor in town, Lord Goring (ironically, Rupert Everett). Misinterpreted deeds offend friends, but in the end, all principal characters confront one another and forgive in time for tea. Ah, how pleasant.

The film falls into a category I first heard coined by a regular customer: fluff. It's a movie that's pleasant enough to enjoy your viewing, but once it's over, it's over. No analysis, no fond memories...basically, once you've seen it, you've seen it. It certainly wasn't anything new or unique, for Oscar Wilde adaptations are about as common as productions of "Pride and Prejudice" in the cinema realm. I did forget, though, what a good soundtrack the film has. It's a soundtrack with especially memorable music during the credits. While it might sound like a banal complement, let me just note that for an usher cleaning a theatre several times a day during the film's run, good credit music makes all the difference in the world.

Watch the Trailer

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