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AN IDEAL HUSBAND

UK, 1999 (MIFF 1999, Fiction)

Director: Oliver Parker

Based on the Oscar Wilde play, Oliver Parker's An Ideal Husband is a rare triumph—celebrating the wit of Wilde's theatrical voice whilst exploiting the medium of film to full effect. Rupert Everett {My Best Friend's Wedding) takes on the role of Lord Arthur Goring—confirmed bachelor and famed throughout London for his elegance, repartee and refusal to take anything seriously. When called upon by his old friend Sir Robert Chiltern (Jeremy Northam, Amistad) to resolve an unusually delicate matter, he instant­ly rises to the invitation. Sir Robert is the perfect gentleman and ideal husband to the captivating Lady Chiltern (multi award winning Australian actress Cate Blanchett). His 'del­icate matter' concerns the scheming Mrs Cheveley (Julianne Moore, The Big Lebowski), who is threatening to reveal a dark secret from his past. While Arthur excels in manipulating the affairs of others, the persistent charms of Sir Robert's sister (Minnie Driver) and the badgering ol his own father (John Wood) threaten to draw him into the inevitable custom of his times: matrimony.

An Ideal Husband is a visually dynamic and lush piece of cinema. Michael Howells' production design (in evidence on Sally Potter's Orlando and Greenaway's The Cook, The Thief, His Wife and Her Lover) provides a strong sense of the era's claustrophobic social conventions, without pandering to obvious period-drama styles. A pol­ished adaptation that reflects Wilde's acid wit, An Ideal Husband is a film that clearly stands alone.

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