Okay, we all remember how bored to tears I was watching Jeremy Irons for what seemed like 37 hours in the original Brideshead Revisited miniseries. After the backlash my negative comments incited on this blog, I approached the recent release of the feature film version of Evelyn Waugh's novel with apprehension and anxiety. Would I hate it as much as the miniseries? Could I bear to sit through even two hours for the sake of reveling in the costumes and scenery? Would I silently seethe and dream about attacking Aloysious with a sturdy set of garden shears?
To prevent the aforementioned, I decided to actually read the novel in the hopes that it might offer up some mitigating insight that could let me enjoy the film. Am pleased to report that it most certainly did! I don't know whether I'm in a more receptive place in my life, but this time around, the story resonated with me. I found it sweet and funny and sad and telling, and I'm pretty sure I read the book faster than the viewing time of that original miniseries.
With that under my belt, I very much looked forward to seeing another adaptation of the movie, and despite some liberties taken to successfully cram the tale into the more palatable two hours, the movie did not disappoint. Lady Marchmain was so much more relatable to me this time around for a variety of reasons (well done, Emma!) and Matthew Goode was a serious sight for sore eyes. I had some problems: I missed the days on the oceanliner when Charles and Julia had the boat to themselves while everyone else was seasick...I couldn't understand why they needed to throw in the "I'll sell her for some paintings" part...And shock of all shocks, I found that this film's Sebastian (Ben Whishaw) didn't measure up to the miniseries' Anthony Andrews.
Best of all, as expected, were the clothes. Here's what I covet:
Julia's white coat from the ocean voyage
Julia's cute bathing suit
Julia's sweater/dress when her father died
Julia's Art Deco tiara at her coming out
Lady Marchmain's fur-trimmed blue coat
Any of the cloche hats
Any of Lady Marchmain's jewels
Julia's sparkly bobby pins in Venice
All in all, watching the film (and enjoying it, for the most part) is a perfect example of how, sometimes, reading the novel first makes all the difference. Now that I've been baptized into the world of Bridehead, I might even go back and rewatch the original miniseries. Maybe not soon...but someday. (Like Sebastian's father, I came around in the end.)