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Film Review

By Frederic and Mary Ann Brussat


The Draughtsman's Contract
Directed by Peter Greenaway
Wellspring 1982 DVD/VHS Feature Film

Peter Greenaway's The Draughtsman's Contract is a thoroughly entertaining murder mystery set in 17th century England. Mrs. Herbert (Janet Suzman) desperately wants the handsome Mr. Neville (Anthony Higgins) to create 12 drawings of her family estate while her husband is away on a journey. Not especially interested, the draughtsman adds a bit of spice to the project by making her agree that she will pay him for the work with 12 sexual favors.

This macabre story explores the interplay of art, sex, and power with shrewd insight. The supremely cocky Neville finds himself in command of the situation and his craft until he is outwitted by Mrs. Herbert's married daughter (Anne Louise Lambert) who has an agenda of her own. The chilling finale is surprising and revealing. Greenaway has brought to the screen a cinematic game that is tantalizing both to the senses and to the imagination.


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Reviews and database copyright 1970 2012
by Frederic and Mary Ann Brussat
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