Monday 12 January 1998
Lord David Cecil once summarised Jane Austen's line on the dilemma of 19th-century matrimony: it was wrong to marry for money, but silly to marry without it. There's a similar problem at the heart of Henry James's novel, now brought to a cinema screen near you (in case you hadn't noticed). As grey is the new brown (is the new black), Henry James is the next Jane Austen. Mind you, they said that about Joseph Conrad... Nostromo, anybody? The less-than-rapturous reception accorded to Jane Campion's Portrait of a Lady notwithstanding, James's impossibly fine prose - think Anita Brookner sans jokes - has been rendered into altogether more explicit images by screenwriter Hossein Amini and director Iain Softley. It's then left to Linus Roache and period fixture Helena Bonham Carter to make it flesh. For those who regard James's constrained, closeted imagery as sacrosanct, I should point out that the pun is intended. David Benedict
Presents unwrapped, turkey gobbled... it's time to relax
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