Bil’s rating (out of 5): BBBB.5.
United Kingdom/USA, 1998. Fox Searchlight Pictures. Screenplay by Lynn Siefert, Susan Tarr, based on the novel by Honore de Balzac. Cinematography by Andrzej Sekula. Produced by Sarah Radclyffe. Music by Simon Boswell. Production Design by Hugo Luczyc-Wyshowski. Costume Design by Gabriella Pescucci. Film Editing by Tariq Anwar, Barry Alexander Brown.
Critics and audiences unfortunately ignored this delightful though admittedly loose adaptation of Honore de Balzac’s searing novel. Jessica Lange is excellent as Bette, the passed-over old-maid relation of an impoverished society family who decides after having her potential lover Wenceslas (Aden Young) stolen from under her nose by young cousin Hortense (Kelly Macdonald), that she has suffered the last straw. She enlists the help of second-rate burlesque singer Jenny Cadine (Elisabeth Shue) and makes sure her family members all suffer for every mistake they’ve made against her. Cast members Bob Hoskins, Hugh Laurie and Geraldine Chaplin in a bit part all do very well, with Young less successful as the lover. It’s plush in every possible way, scored beautifully by Simon Boswell (with Offenbach selections adapted by Danny Troob), and a completely enjoyable experience. Great for those who love a good revenge story.