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Impoverished Italian nobleman Prince Amerigo (Jeremy Northam) loves Charlotte Stant (Uma Thurman). To improve his social and economic fortunes he marries Charlotte's friend Maggie Verver (Kate Beckinsale), the daughter of American millionaire Adam Verver (Nick Nolte). When the widowed Verver marries Charlotte, her passion with Amerigo is re-ignited and an illicit affair begins.

Review by Louise Keller:
Visually splendid, Merchant Ivory's latest offering is a welcome retreat of subtlety and understatement in a world far removed from today's frenetic pace. I haven't read Henry James' novel, but after seeing the film, I am eager to envelop myself in the prose from this elegant world where moral code is everything. Exquisite settings, production design, beautiful costumes and a rich score envelop us in the textured world of Golden Bowl, an intelligent period piece about propriety, adultery, loyalty and etiquette.

The characters are a beguiling foursome inexplicably intertwined by love, loneliness, duty and wealth, and the complex layers gradually unfold and are exposed. The unravelling of the emotional issues is leisurely, and to be savoured. The women are the strong characters: they are the ones who control the events.

Uma Thurman revels in her role as the huntress, always pursuing the man of her dreams, irrespective of the consequences. A vision in green sequins with a headdress decked with peacock feathers, she looks fabulous with her mane of blonde hair swept up every which way. Kate Beckinsale is lovely as the selflesss wife, while Angelica Huston adds spice as Fanny, the matchmaker. Good pairing of Huston and James Fox: what a great couple they make, with Fox as wiley as his animal namesake.

Nick Nolte is truly superb while Jeremy Northam's weak Italian Prince (a very different role for Northam) is played to perfection. The crux of the story is about the relationships: father/daughter, husband/wife, husband/love, best friends. Often shot in the shadows, this is a story filled with secrets, and we become privy to all of them. The more we learn, the deeper we become embroiled. The locations are gorgeous - from the decadent castles and plush décor to the beautiful Italian landscape. I really enjoyed the emotional intensity of The Golden Bowl. Truly haunting, the film and its characters has stayed with me, as a beautiful painting that instigates its own interpretation.

There's behind the scenes footage and interviews on the DVD, plus cast and crew filmographies.

Published April 8, 2004

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CAST: Kate Beckinsale, James Fox, Anjelica Huston, Nick Nolte, Jeremy Northam, Uma Thurman

DIRECTOR: James Ivory

SCRIPT: Ruth Prawer Jhabvala (Henry James novel)

RUNNING TIME: 130 minutes

PRESENTATION: widescreen enhanced; 2.35:1 cinema ratio

SPECIAL FEATURES: Cast and crew filmographies, Behind The Scenes footage and interviews; Trailers

DVD DISTRIBUTOR: Fox Home Entertainment

DVD RELEASE: March 10, 2004

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