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Film Review

By Frederic and Mary Ann Brussat

 

The City of Your Final Destination
Directed by James Ivory
Screen Media Films 04/10 DVD/VHS Feature Film
PG-13 - brief sexual situation with partial nudity

Omar (Omar Metwally) is a graduate student at an American college where he also teaches. Thanks to his impulsive nature, he has gotten himself into a bit of a bind. Omar has told his committee chair that he has the approval from the estate of Uruguayan novelist Jules Gund to write his biography; the truth is he has received a letter denying him permission from the deceased writer's family. Concerned that Omar might lose his job over this foolish deed, his domineering girlfriend, Deirdre (Alexandra Maria Lara), orders him to fly to Uruguay and convince the Gunds to change their minds. He is hesitant to do so, but accedes to her wishes.

Arriving at Rio Ochos, the novelist's large estate, he is greeted by Arden (Charlotte Gainsbourg), his mistress, a pretty but lonely soul. Although Omar has not told them of his intention to visit, he is given a room and invited to stay. Caroline (Laura Linney), Gund's aloof wife, is vehemently opposed to Omar doing the authorized biography. She spends most of her time locked away in her room copying masterpiece paintings. Gund's brother, Adam (Anthony Hopkins), on the other hand, is willing to give Omar his vote in exchange for an illegal favor. He needs some money to give to his young lover, Pete (Hiroyuki Sanada) whom he wants to set free with a generous gift. This split vote leaves Omar's fate in the hands of Arden, who starts out siding with Caroline, but finds herself attracted to the American, especially when he seems more interested in her than in the biography.

The City of Your Final Destination is a literary masterwork skillfully and sensitively directed by James Ivory based on a well-crafted novel by Peter Cameron. The unhurried pace suits the story well, and the screenplay by Ruth Prawer Jhabvala conveys the nuances in the negotiations between these three misfits who are all likeable in their own odd ways. The performances are across the board superb with a special nod to Charlotte Gainsbourg as the tentative Arden who can't decide whether to give into feelings of love that take her by surprise. Equally striking is Alexandra Maria Lara as Omar's bulldozing girlfriend who appears midway in the movie at the Gund estate with the intention of making things happen in his favor. Manners and emotions are what animate this charming movie that will appeal to all those who savor sophisticated drama.


Special features include a commentary by director James Ivory and a featurette: "Making of The City of Your Final Destination."

 

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by Frederic and Mary Ann Brussat
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