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. Academy Awards 2000. Golden Globe Awards 2000. Las Vegas Film Critics Awards 2000. National Board of Review Awards 2000. Online Film Critics Awards 2000. Phoenix Film Critics Awards 2000.
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.