I did not know much about this film going in other than who was in it and that it was a period drama. While the setting is new, the story is the same one we have seen time and time again. After being delayed for over three years, you would think this film would be polished.
Synopsis: In 17th Century Amsterdam, an orphaned girl is forcibly married to a rich and powerful merchant – an unhappy “arrangement” that saves her from poverty. After her husband commissions a portrait, she begins a passionate affair with the painter, a struggling young artist. Seeking to escape the merchant’s ever-reaching grasp, the lovers risk everything and enter the frenzied tulip bulb market, with the hope that the right bulb will make a fortune and buy their freedom. (eOne Films)
Starring: Alicia Vikander, Dane DeHaan and Christoph Waltz
Writers: Deborah Moggach & Tom Stoppard
Director: Justin Chadwick
Rating: 14A (Canada)/R (USA)
Running Time: 107 minutes
For showtimes and more, check out Tulip Fever on movietimes.com.
So right off the bat, Tulip Fever is more bad than good. While individually the actors do well, there just isn’t much chemistry between really anyone in the cast which is less than ideal for a romance-based story. The best character by far is Christoph Waltz’ who goes through the biggest transformation in his quest for an heir, but not even his charm and emotional strife can save the rest of them. The characters are just boring. They lack depth and there’s no reason to invest in them.
On top of that there are some unusual casting choices for this film with Zach Galifianakis being the obvious one. It seems like the cast was assembled as a way to hit every demographic with top tier talent rather than looking for raw chemistry. Isn’t that what an erotic thriller needs?
Except let’s take a moment and laugh at the marketing team who saw this film as an erotic thriller. There is nothing neither erotic nor thrilling about it. A handful of tame sex scenes and absolutely no tension does not an erotic thriller make. And yet again that is the fault of the story.
This is the poor man’s Romeo and Juliet as the story tries to copy the romance, passion, emotion and tragedy of Shakespeare and yet falls flat right out of the gate. The narrative drags slower and slower until it eventually seems like it is standing still and even wants to start walking backwards. A narrative needs to rise, not fall, and this story didn’t use its unique setting effectively.
This drama is set during the Tulip mania in Amsterdam when everyone trying to get their hands on tulip bulbs. That is a whole underworld of scheming and potentially crime which could have easily added some much needed tensions, but instead they merely scratch the surface to focus on the shallow, dull romance. Heck it didn’t even have a single interesting monologue which could have up’d the suspense while following the path laid by its biggest inspiration.
Overall, Tulip Fever is a mismarketed period drama that wants to emulate the likes of Shakespeare, but doesn’t quite make it thanks to an underdeveloped, unsuspenseful story. While some performances are decent, this film is nothing to go crazy about.
Here’s our video review:
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