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By Frederic and Mary Ann Brussat
An Ideal Husband
Directed by Oliver Parker
Miramax 07/99 DVD/VHS Feature Film
PG-13 - brief sensuality/nudity
Oliver Parker directs this immensely appealing romantic comedy based on Oscar Wilde's 1895 play. The drama boasts a treasure trove of witty dialogue and some fascinating characters who are forced to prioritize their values in strange circumstances.
At a high society party hosted by English politician Sir Robert Chiltern (Jeremy Northam) and his idealistic wife Gertrud (Cate Blanchett), we meet his husband-hunting sister Mabel (Minnie Driver); his best friend Lord Arthur Goring (Rupert Everett); and Mrs. Laura Cheveley (Julianne Moore), an aggressive woman from Vienna who wants Robert to support in Parliament an Argentinean canal scheme in which she has invested most of her money. If he does not work with her, she threatens to destroy his career by exposing the fraud that brought him wealth.
Arthur, who is known as "the idlest man in London," suddenly finds himself called upon to help his friend deal with the scheming Mrs. Cheveley. This means he must break his practice of "only talking seriously on the first Tuesday of each month between noon and three." In addition, this cynical womanizer finds himself being hotly pursued by the swooning Mabel. This entertaining film cleverly and convincingly depicts the foibles and the flaws of high society men and women who are desperately trying to keep their balance in the topsy-turvy worlds of politics and affairs of the heart.
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by Frederic and Mary Ann Brussat
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