An artist falls for a young married woman while he’s commissioned to paint her portrait during the Tulip mania of 17th century Amsterdam.
Director: Justin Chadwick
Writers: Deborah Moggach (screenplay), Tom Stoppard (screenplay)
Stars: Alicia Vikander, Dane DeHaan, Jack O’Connell
Review by Gilbert Seah
The press is having a field day with the news of the new film TULIP FEVER based on a scandalous affair set in 17th Century Amsterdam. When the film critics were asked to sign an embargo for their reviews to appear no earlier that 1 pm of Friday, the film’s opening day, something must be afloat. The film was expiated to be awful. In addition, rumours were going around that TULIP EVER had been siting on the shelves for 3 years.
To be fair to the film, the film was in production in 2014 and the film was scheduled for a 2016 release. So, the film was on the shelf for a year and not 3. As for the embargo, the studios have their reasons. The film is not that bad, though it is not that good either. Despite the film’s flaws, it is quite watchable and pleasant viewing.
For one, the film has an impressive cast that includes Oscar Winner Judi Dench, hardly recognizable in cloister apparel. She is the Abbess who specializes in growing tulips. The film also stars rising start Alicia Vikander, Dane DeHaan, Jack O’Connell and Christoph Waltz. This is Waltz in his strangest role not as an antagonizer but as a victim of various plots. DeHaan, who has become quite the household name now with this third big expensive flop in a row after A CURE FOR WELLNESS (in turn quite a good film despite flopping at the box-office) and the same could be said for VALERIAN.
The film is told from the point of view and voiceover of a maid, Maria (Holly Grainger). She works hard for her mistress Sophia (Vikander) who was bought from the orphanage for a wealthy Cornelis (Waltz) who is desperate to have a son. Maria has an affair with a fishmonger (O’Connell) who delvers fish to the household. Sophia has an affair with a painter, Van Loos (DeHaan) behind Cornelis’ back. When Maria becomes pregnant ,s he blackmails her mistress as she knows of Sophia’s affair with Van Loos. Sophia decides to have Maria’s baby as her own to fool her husband. Complications arise in this complicated tale of deceit, with tulip truing brought into the picture.
It is are to market a film in which those who plot and have various affairs flourish and the poor faithful and believing husband doesn’t. He ends up, forgiving his transgressors and even grating them his residence.
The film is set in Holland, in the 17th century when tulips were the talk of the town. Business people were trading on tulips, very similar to the stock market at present. As expected, while many may make their fortunes, oner less fortunate ones stand to lose everything.
TULIP FEVER benefits from an interesting though hardly credible story. The period setting in Amsterdam helps too, despite the film shot totally in English with largely English and European actors. TULIP FEVER ends up an interesting failure. It costs only $25 million to make, so it might just make a little profit.