“I think it's one of the most noble risks we have ever taken.” This comes from an executive at Twentieth Century Fox, the studio that gave us Sunrise, Shirley Temple, and The Robe. When a corporation has ranged from the sublime to the ridiculous, talk of nobility is often a warning sign of stupidity. So sane producers may have read Yann Martel’s 2001 novel, seen that it was selling 9 million copies across the world, and concluded that there was no need for a movie of Life of Pi—the same escape clause I raised a week ago in connection with the latest Anna Karenina.
The novel was published in the mid-1870s, but how old is Anna Karenina herself? The book places her around 28, though the husband, Karenin, is 20 years her senior. There was a film in 1935, with Garbo, who was 30 at the time, and Basil Rathbone as Karenin, when he was 42. That’s a fair gap, but what was better still, those two seemed to have aged and grown bitter in their marriage. There was another version, in 1948, with Vivien Leigh (35) and Ralph Richardson, who was 46. This time, we have Keira Knightley, 27, and Jude Law, who is 40.
A Dangerous Method is crammed with alarm and peril at the outset. A young, dark-featured woman in white is barely contained in a moving carriage in 1904—she is screaming, heaving, sighing—and she is being taken to a clinic just outside Zurich where she will become the patient of Dr Carl Jung. Outside the smart establishment, on what seems a fine day, she is carried inside still writhing like an eel on a cutting board. She turns out to be Sabina Spielrein, and she is played by Keira Knightley, not an actress who has carried me away in the past.
Anyone seeking evidence of the death of romantic comedy will find it in abundance in Love Actually, which arrives in video stores this week. Written and directed by Richard Curtis (best known for penning Bridget Jones's Diary, Notting Hill, and Four Weddings and a Funeral), Love Actually announces its ambitions early: Too bold to offer us a thin, unconvincing romance, it instead offers us half a dozen.