By Adrianna Kourafas
Sure, everybody knows about the recent box-office success of “The Dark Knight.” But look a little further down the charts, and you’ll notice the name of a small movie-that-could pulling in some impressive summer numbers on a handful of screens: “Brideshead Revisited.”
The film stars “Watchmen” actor Matthew Goode, Oscar-winner Emma Thompson and relative newcomer Hayley Atwell. Based on a classic novel about wealth, sensuality and betrayal, Hollywood has been trying to make a film out of the 1945 Evelyn Waugh book for decades, but only now has someone like director Julian Jarrold (“Becoming Jane”) come along and figured out how to pull it off.
"I was really intrigued," Atwell told us recently while remembering what made her want to play spoiled, sexually-charged Julia. "I didn't know how the hell to bridge the gap between myself and getting to Julia, but I found it. It was so rich. There was such rich material and rich character study, and that it is perfect for an actor."
Goode, meanwhile, was eager to play the well-meaning but flawed character who threatens to tear a family apart. "Charles is such an unobliging lead in many constraints,” said the “Match Pont” actor. “He's very messed up and cold. It's only once you've realized just what a damaged human being he is that it makes it a little easier to like him."
But not everything in the movie is beholden to the book. Jarrold and his screenwriters placed the two complex characters, as well as Julia’s confused brother Sebastian (Ben Whishaw, “I’m Not There”) together in Venice, centering the narrative more around their lead actress. At the same time, it also allows the movie to highlight Charles' change in affection from Sebastian to Julia, and permits the relationship between Charles and Julia to grow stronger.
"Hopefully, the film conveys symbolism very well with the close-ups of the crucifix and the bear representing this frozen childhood that Sebastian is caught in,” explained Atwell of what got cut, and what has hopefully been maintained. “And all those things that add to the visual look of the piece, but also to the prose you don't get - which is so vivid in the book."
Have you seen “Brideshead Revisited” yet? Do you think Jarrold improved on the novel, or did he tweak too much?