[box cover]

An Ideal Husband

In a year full of special effects, one of 1999's most intelligent pleasures was a special affect — namely, the dryly funny, self-loving affectations of Rupert Everett in An Ideal Husband. Adapted from the Oscar Wilde play by director Oliver Parker (Othello), Husband is a clever romantic comedy of manners set in turn-of-the-century England. The film follows rising social star Robert Chiltern (Jeremy Northam) whose past ethical indiscretion comes back to haunt him in the person of a scheming widow (Julianne Moore). Lord Arthur Goring (Everett) — the witty, lazy, foppish rich, incredibly likable know-it-all who serves as Wilde's thematic mouthpiece — intervenes on behalf of Chiltern, with mixed results. The cast is uniformly excellent; of course, when that cast includes Northam, Moore, Everett, Cate Blanchett, and Minnie Driver, how couldn't it? It's Everett, however, who walks away with the film — much as he did with My Best Friend's Wedding — tossing off lines like "To love oneself is the beginning of a lifelong romance" with narcissistic impunity. While An Ideal Husband gets off to a slow start, it quickly builds to an involving, funny climax that packs a few genuine surprises. Not bad for a 100-year-old screenplay. Good transfer, DD 5.1, "making-of" featurette, trailer.
—Dawn Taylor

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