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.


Serendipity (2001)

4 Kernels

Stars: John Cusack and Kate Beckinsale

Okay, okay. Every once in a while I get sucked into a sappy contemporary comedy. I even run out and buy the soundtrack. I will admit, this one rates high on my sap list.

There are a few harsh reviews on Amazon regarding the believability. Is it because in today’s society the idea of “soul mates,” “fated as lovers,” “you are my destiny” and “made for each other,” is pretty much dead? I suppose if they really existed, I don’t think the divorce rate would be as high. Serendipity, though, wants you to believe and have faith.

When a movie like Serendipity comes along and presents the notion there is more out there than what you’ve settled for, you have a choice. What if something in your gut tells you the chance of a lifetime slipped through your fingers on one cold winter’s night? You can ignore the tug upon your heart or make sure you’re not hallucinating. It’s a fantasy-filled love story of possibilities; or a bunch of idiotic trash depending on whether you wear those rose-colored glasses or not.

Where do I stand? I’m one of the disenchanted in the realm of love, but I still believe in soul mates, fated lovers, and the made for each other mentality. I do believe something can spark in the heart of two people who meet and instantly know they’d be good together, even if it’s only in one night. Enter Serendipity – that fortuitous happy accident, when the stars align and all is right with the universe.

However, like all movies there is a need for conflict to keep the ball rolling. Their fateful moment slips away, and years later they are attached to others and about to be married. Haunted by the possibilities, as they accept the less-than-perfect mates they are soon to wed (let’s hear a cheer this happens before they are married), they embark on finding that elusive individual they met years ago. Impossible? Probably. Hard to believe they did find each other? Yes. Yet, this is make-believe. It’s a movie, not reality, and is meant to leave you warm and fuzzy inside or disgruntled over the load of crap you just watched.

John Cusack, as usual, is terrific. The comedy is sweet. The frustration believable. That crazy book with the inside cover you’re waiting for him to flip over and see fated writing inside – priceless. Especially, when he receives it as a wedding present from his fiancee. Yes, two people get hurt, but better yet saved from marrying someone who carried doubts and unresolved “what if’s” into a marriage that probably would not have lasted anyway.

My Favorite Lines: (Sara) You don’t have to understand. You just have to have faith. (Jonathan) Faith in what? (Sara) Destiny