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Saturday, July 18, 2015

Washington Square (1997)

A plain and awkward girl (Jennifer Jason Leigh) unconditionally adores her father (Albert Finney), a wealthy widower and New York City doctor. But when a handsome but penniless young man (Ben Chaplin) comes courting, a split occurs between father and daughter when the father makes known he would be against marriage to the man and, indeed, disinherit her. Based on the novel by Henry James, this is a more faithful adaptation of the book than the stage version known as THE HEIRESS. Notably in the play's melodramatic ending as opposed to the novel's quiet coda which is replicated here. Jennifer Jason Leigh overdoes Catherine's awkwardness at the beginning but grows into the part as her character matures both emotionally and chronologically. Like Ang Lee and his film of Jane Austen's SENSE AND SENSIBILITY, the Polish director Agnieszka Holland brings a much need "outsider" view which prevents this from being yet another stuffy BBC or Merchant Ivory presentation. With Maggie Smith (stealing scenes as usual), Jennifer Garner, Judith Ivey, Betsy Brantley and Arthur Laupus.

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