An artist, Jan (Dane de Haan) falls for a young married woman, Sophia (Alicia Vikander) when he’s commissioned to paint her portrait during the Tulip Mania of 17th century Amsterdam.
I’m really not sure what to make of this film. I watched it yesterday and even now I’m still struggling to elucidate exactly how I feel. The cast did an OK job with their roles, and Christoph Waltz (Inglorious Basterds) as Sophia’s husband Cornelis Sandvoort was passable yet lacked a certain something, but I think this was probably due to how the character was written rather than Waltz’s performance itself. Judi Dench as the Abbess of the convent does a good job at portraying the character and it was quite a surprise to see her in this film as I did not look up the cast list ahead of time.
I haven’t read the novel on which the film was adapted, but yet the film felt somewhat unfinished, as if the product of some sort of Franken-film, which judging by a cursory Google search online is probably the case.
The cinematography and costumes are good and this being yet another historical drama, this will always pique my interest. That being said, my knowledge of Dutch history is so rudimentary that you could tell me that they traded guinea pigs on the stock market and I’d probably believe you.
The romance between Jan and Sophia felt so flimsy, so I couldn’t really be fully interested with it as the plot unfolded. The plausibility of Sophia’s plot with her maidservant Maria (Holliday Grainger) felt really contrived and at times ridiculous, descending at times into comedy. That being said, Tom Hollander (Rev) as Dr Sorgh was funny when he appeared in scenes and made me chuckle a few times.
I think the Maria narrating the story as she tells her daughter about her true identity made some sense but it would have made even more sense to set it after a longer time jump (ie 18 years rather than 8) so her explaining to her daughter makes sense and it might even give a stronger sense of an identity struggle.
On the plus side, this has definitely made me want to read the book that this was adapted from, so that’s certainly something. Ultimately, this was a sweet film but woefully underdone, like a cake baked in the oven that you knew would be delicious but for some reason you took it out when it was still raw in the middle.
MY RATING: ***/ *****