DVD - 2004
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The quartet consists of novelist Marya Zelli, her Polish husband, Stephen, wealthy philanderer/artist H.J. Heidler and his wife, Lois. Though she has been indulgent of H.J.'s past indiscretions, Lois isn't keen on her husband carrying on an affair with Marya under their own roof. Meanwhile, Stephen sits in prison, jailed for his various petty thefts. Once Stephen is released, he learns about the triangle. When the dust settles, it is Marya who suffers the most.
Publisher: [United States] : Criterion Collection ; Chicago, Ill. : distributed by Home Vision Entertainment, c2004.
ISBN: 9780780026797
Branch Call Number: Fic
Characteristics: 1 videodisc (101 min.) : sd., col. ; 4 3/4 in.


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Dec 24, 2016

This is an older film directed by James Ivory, with Paris in the 1920's as the back drop. It depicted the relationship between two married couples. A pretty messy one. Reasonably enjoyable to watch.

Mar 20, 2013

Based on Jean Rhys' first novel, this dark story (with close captions) appears to be a thinly-veiled autobiography of when her literary mentor, novelist Ford Maddox Ford, had her as his 'kept woman.' The plot focuses on his foibles and machinations, and those of his colluding wife - almost as much as on the victim's perspective. It's graced with the artful direction and production of the Merchant & Ivory team, including a good script by Ruth Prawer Jhabvala. Best of all, however, it's got Isabelle Adjani in the lead - playing the besotted victim of the indolent Brit couple who have her in their thrall. Maggie Smith is fine and also rather striking in her own way, but although she plays her perverse part well, it doesn't show her talents to best advantage (as seems to be the case with just about anything she does these days). Alan Bates, as her husband, is as good as ever in his role as a repressed, post-Victorian user who is only half-aware or half lying to himself about his doings. The supporting cast and settings - Paris in the 1920s - are also all fine and well done. Still, this flick is a coup mostly for Adjani, whose allure is strongly in the fore: exquisitely beautiful, sometimes coy and youthful, she also manages to conjure a womanly yet hesitant anger as she gradually realizes everyone's indifference towards her, and their callousness about her fate. This includes doubts about verging on prostitution with the man who keeps her - which is never stated outright, though the film's direction makes it very clear. Her grasp is also jaded when it comes to the fourth person in the title's quartet: the slippery, never-quite-committed husband she awaits, without material or other support, until he emerges from prison. The extent of the protagonist's naivety would not fare well at the heart of a story in less sensitive hands than those of the Merchant-Ivory team. Conversely, rabid feminists of the sort who filled the landscape in '81, when this came out, would probably find this most frustrating, what with their lucid views about just what makes men tick and blind spots regarding the complicity of women. (I wonder if there are any still about?) In all, a well-realized production of Rhys's story about convoluted passions. Very well worth watching.


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