Somewhere out there must be an audience for Brideshead Revisited (PG-13), a stiff-upper-lip adaptation of Evelyn Waugh's novel about love and longing among British aristocrats. It's a good bet that the audience didn't buy a lot of tickets to The Dark Knight, Kung Fu Panda or any other summertime movie offerings.
Plopping a classy period piece in the midst of summer escapism is either brilliant counter-programming or a wistful kiss of death. I know I'm not ready for tea-and-crumpets melodrama until October, at least.
Director Julian Jarrold's version is only a bit longer than two hours, compared with the 11 spent on Waugh's novel by PBS in its celebrated 1981 miniseries that made Jeremy Irons a stateside star.
Matthew Goode (Match Point) picks up Irons' role of Capt. Charles Ryder, stationed at Brideshead Castle during World War II. Charles knows the place well, having spent summers there with alcoholic Oxford classmate Sebastian Flyte (Ben Whishaw). Sebastian's homoerotic attraction to Charles is complicated by the presence of his sister Julia (Hayley Atwell), forming an uncomfortable love triangle.
Academy Award winner Emma Thompson co-stars as domineering matriarch Lady Marchmain, a role reportedly expanded from Waugh's vision. Let me know how she performs.
Steve Persall, Times film critic