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Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Ethan Frome (1993)

After his mother dies, a young New England man (Liam Neeson) marries his mother's caregiver (Joan Allen). But soon after the marriage, his wife becomes very sickly and sends for a distant relative (Patricia Arquette) to take care of her. As his wife's condition worsens, the farmer finds himself attracted to the young girl. Based on the novel by Edith Wharton (THE AGE OF INNOCENCE), the film is relatively faithful to the book but the screenwriter Richard Nelson (HYDE PARK ON THE HUDSON) makes the mistake of romanticizing Ethan's (Neeson) and Mattie's characters and Wharton's stark moralistic fable is anything but a romance. Bobby Bukowski's lensing of the wintery Vermont landscapes is too pretty but I suppose B&W was out of the question. Neeson and Arquette's performances are too anachronistic but Joan Allen perfectly realizes the bitter hypochondriac she plays. Directed by John Madden (SHAKESPEARE IN LOVE) with a quietly effective score by Rachel Portman. With Katharine Houghton (GUESS WHO'S COMING TO DINNER) and Tate Donovan.

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