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An Ideal Husband

Released: 1999

Genre: Comedy

Runtime: 1 hr 36 min

MPAA Rating: PG-13

Director: Oliver Parker

Starring: Cate Blanchett, Minnie Driver, Rupert Everett, Julianne Moore, Jeremy Northam

A film based on the play by Oscar Wilde. Sir Robert Chiltern is a successful Government minister, well-off and with a loving wife. All this is threatened when Mrs. Cheveley appears in London with damning evidence of a past misdeed. Sir Robert turns for help to his friend Lord Goring, an apparently idle philanderer and the despair of his father. Goring knows the lady of old and the plot to help his friend has unintended consequences.

AN IDEAL HUSBAND is a treat for the heart, the mind and the funny bone.

Review by: SteveRhodes

Added: 7 years ago

"To love one's self is the beginning of a lifelong romance," Lord Arthur Goring tells his butler (Peter Vaughan) in AN IDEAL HUSBAND. Arthur is played in a dazzling performance by Rupert Everett from MY BEST FRIEND'S WEDDING.

"Do you always understand what you say?" Arthur's father (John Wood) asks Arthur later in the story. "If I listen attentively," he replies.

Writer and director Oliver Parker's richly sardonic AN IDEAL HUSBAND is a brilliant and biting adaptation of the classic Oscar Wilde play. Thoroughly entertaining, the film moves from one scene of deliciously subtle humor to another. When you're not laughing out loud, you'll be grinning from ear to ear.

When we meet Arthur, he is starting another hard day in the life of the rich and famous. Having his breakfast in bed, he complains of the pressures before him. "Busy day today," he tells his butler. "Distressing little time for sloth or idleness." Oscar Wilde is a master of self-deprecating humor and saying what everyone thinks but wouldn't dare say.

This comedy of manners and misadventures has been adapted before. In 1969, the BBC, for example, did a fine production starring Jeremy Brett and Susan Hampshire. Yet, none of the previous attempts had an ensemble cast like this one, which is filled with many big name actors and previous Oscar nominees.

Jeremy Northam, so brilliant in THE WINSLOW BOY, plays Sir Robert Chiltern, the character in the center of the story's storm. It seems that this wealthy Member of Parliament may have obtained his initial financial nest egg through less than honest means, or so thinks Mrs. Laura Cheveley, who tries to blackmail him. As the wonderfully wicked Mrs. Cheveley, Julianne Moore (BOOGIE NIGHTS) shows evil in every curl of her devilishly disarming smile.

ELIZABETH's Cate Blanchett plays Lady Gertrud Chiltern, Sir Robert's naively loyal wife. Whenever she and Robert's friend Arthur are in close proximity, small sparks are detectable from a previous, smoldering relationship of theirs. Arthur, the film's playboy, was once engaged to Mrs. Cheveley, albeit only for three weeks.

To complete this complicated love pentagon, GOOD WILL HUNTING's Minnie Driver plays Robert's sister, Mabel, who also has eyes for Robert, and vice versa. Driver demonstrates considerable talent in the movie as the master of the reaction shot. When other characters deliver some of their best lines, she ends up stealing the scene with her facial responses.

The picture's look is a joy to behold. The sumptuous mansions are filmed in the lush tones of dark English oak paneling. The men, who dress in tails with cream-colored vests and ties and tall black, top hats, manage to outshine the women in their finery.

"Morality is simply the attitude that we adopt to those whom we dislike," Arthur lectures Gertrud. The entire movie is peppered with such aphorisms, which puts the audience through a delightful cycle of laughing, thinking, and then laughing again. AN IDEAL HUSBAND is a treat for the heart, the mind and the funny bone.

AN IDEAL HUSBAND runs a fast 1:36. It is rated PG-13 for brief sensuality and distant nudity. Although there isn't anything to offend anyone, a child would probably have to be at least 11 to be interested.