Bil’s rating (out of 5): BBBB.
USA/Germany/United Kingdom, 2000. Fox Searchlight Pictures, Industry Entertainment, Walrus & Associates, Hollywood Partners. Screenplay by Doug Wright, based on his play. Cinematography by Rogier Stoffers. Produced by Julia Chasman, Peter Kaufman, Nick Wechsler. Music by Stephen Warbeck. Production Design by Martin Childs. Costume Design by Jacqueline West. Film Editing by Peter Boyle.
Excellent drama about the Marquis de Sade’s influence on the keepers and inmates of the madhouse Charenton, where he spent his last days after being declared criminally insane by French authorities. Geoffrey Rush lives it up as the Marquis, and Kate Winslet is letter-perfect as the charwoman he adores for her innocence. The issues of censorship and its backward application by authoritative figures is the message here, and it is executed gracefully by Philip Kaufman’s sure direction and performances by the ensemble cast, particularly Winslet and Joaquin Phoenix as the noble-hearted priest who runs the asylum. It is better than the other film about the Marquis made the same year, Benoit Jacquot’s Sade, but in that film its star Daniel Auteuil made a better lead. This film has some very explicit content that is at the same time shocking and refreshingly honest.
Academy Award Nominations: Best Actor (Geoffrey Rush); Best Art Direction; Best Costume Design
Golden Globe Award Nominations: Best Actor-Drama (Geoffrey Rush); Best Screenplay
Screen Actors Guild Award Nominations: Best Actor (Geoffrey Rush); Best Supporting Actress (Kate Winslet)