The Golden Bowl (Movie 2000)

4 Kernels

Stars: Uma Thurman, Jeremy Northam, Kate Beckinsale, Nick Nolte, and Angelica Huston

Currently streaming on NetFlix is a movie that I have watched multiple times and always with enjoyment.  When it was released in 2000, it received mixed reviews. It has a 58% Rotten Tomato rating and a 6.0 one on IMDb. It’s a drama based on a 1904 novel by Henry James.  You can’t go wrong with the cast either, all of which give good performances in this convoluted story of love, desire, adultery, and secrets from the past. (Sounds like my book The Price of Deception.)

Jeremy Northam plays Prince Amerigo, an aristocrat without money from Italy. He is engaged to Maggie Verver, played by Kate Beckinsale. Her father, with whom she is very close, is played by Nick Nolte, a billionaire. Amerigo appears to be devoted and in love with Maggie, which doesn’t given the quick impression that his marriage is one of convenience for the sake of money.

The movie begins with the search for a wedding gift. Uma Thurman, plays Maggie’s close friend, and goes shopping with the prince as he looks for the perfect trinket to give his lovely fiancee.  He decides to purchase a golden bowl, the significance of which does not come into play until much later in the movie. It’s one of those symbolic objects placed in the story by the author.

While all of this plays out, there is a secret that neither Maggie nor her father knows.  The prince and her close friend, Charlotte, were once lovers. Charlotte has arrived for the wedding and stays with her friend.  Her love for the prince has not waned, and in fact, she’s obsessed with him in every way.  So much so, that she whirls her charms in the direction of the rich Mr. Verver.  He falls for the younger woman and they marry, which puts her in the perfect place of being close to the prince and Maggie. Conveniently, she is in their lives forever.

As the story progresses, so does the deception. Charlotte relentlessly pursues Amerigo behind her new husband’s back, who eventually comes to realize she loves the prince. He never says a word, but orchestrates his own maneuvers to keep her close and eventually removing her altogether from their lives. On the other hand, Maggie is no longer blind to the her husband’s excessive meetings with Charlotte, which has now become the gossip of society. She begins to wonder if they are having an affair.

Amerigo tries his best to spurn Charlotte from the beginning of the story.  His patient reasoning, however, leads him down a path of temptation and ultimate betrayal of his wife.

I enjoyed this movie because it’s right up my alley for drama and a good storyline.  Jeremy Northam has been a favorite of mine for some time.  He plays the conflicted husband and ex-lover convincingly. Kate Beckinsale gives a splendid portrayal as the innocent, trusting wife – very demure and close to her father. Uma Thurman is the perfect tormented lover, while Nick Nolte had quite the role as the billionaire. A far cry from his mug shot of years past, he looks handsome and debonaire in the part of Mr. Verver, who has a love of art and artifacts.

Now, as far as that golden bowl goes, you’ll just have to watch the movie to find out its part and ultimate end.  If you’re the type that likes a slow moving drama with an underlying substance of a good story, you may like The Golden Bowl.