Movies Silently is hosting the Swashathon or the Swashbuckler Blogathon, and I could not pass this opportunity by to review Randall Wallace’s “The Man In the Iron Mask” (1998). As many of you would know, today is also Bastille Day or la Fête nationale in France, which provides for another excuse to delve into a film portraying France. Here, despite many critics’ allegations that “The Man In the Iron Mask” is laughable, flimsy and disrespects the novel by Alexandre Dumas it is based on, the film is actually an enjoyable ride from start to finish. If the audience does not take this film too seriously, and allow themselves to be carried away by the plot, action and the humour, they are in for a treat. The visuals are delightful, the music composed by Nick Glennie-Smith is great, and the film has a cast many directors would “die for”: Leonardo DiCaprio (“Revolutionary Road” (2008)), John Malkovich (“The Portrait of a Lady” (1996)), Jeremy Irons (“The Correspondence” (2016)), Gabriel Byrne (“I, Anna” (2012)) and Gerard Depardieu.
Directed by Jane Campion (‘The Piano’ (1993)), ‘The Portrait of a Lady’ is an adaptation of Henry James’s classic novel of the same name. It tells the story of a beautiful, free-thinking and intelligent young woman, Isabel Archer (Nicole Kidman) who arrives to England from the US with her aunt, Mrs. Touchett, to “see and explore the world”. While on her quest, Miss Archer rejects promising marriage proposals coming from a wealthy American tradesman, Caspar Goodwood (Viggo Mortensen), and an immensely rich heir, Lord Warburton (Richard E. Grant). Miss Archer takes these decisions because she is devoted to the ideals of personal freedom and a ceaseless pursuit of knowledge.Through the help of her faithful, but fragile cousin, Ralph (Martin Donovan), Isabel is made rich, and is then free to pursue her dreams of independence. However, when Isabel strikes up friendship with amiable and cultured Madame Merle (Barbara Hershey), she is far from suspecting that this acquaintance will lead to her unhappy marriage to an elusive, middle-aged art collector, Gilbert Osmond (John Malkovich).