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The Line of Beauty
The Line of Beauty
Actors: Dan Stevens, Tim McInnerny, Hayley Atwell, Alice Krige, Carmen Du Sautoy
Genres: Indie & Art House, Drama, Television, Gay & Lesbian
NR     2006     2hr 57min

Adapted by award-winning writer Andrew Davies from Alan Hollinghurst's Booker Prize-winning novel, this three-part saga is set during the Thatcherite 1980s. A story of love, class, sex and money, The Line of Beauty crawls ...  more »


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Movie Details

Actors: Dan Stevens, Tim McInnerny, Hayley Atwell, Alice Krige, Carmen Du Sautoy
Genres: Indie & Art House, Drama, Television, Gay & Lesbian
Sub-Genres: Indie & Art House, Drama, Television, Gay & Lesbian
Studio: BBC Warner
Format: DVD - Color - Closed-captioned
DVD Release Date: 10/17/2006
Original Release Date: 01/01/2006
Theatrical Release Date: 01/01/2006
Release Year: 2006
Run Time: 2hr 57min
Screens: Color
Number of Discs: 1
SwapaDVD Credits: 1
Total Copies: 0
Members Wishing: 8
MPAA Rating: NR (Not Rated)
Languages: English
Subtitles: English

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Movie Reviews

Amazing 3 parter.
Martin P. O'Keefe | London, England. | 08/01/2006
(5 out of 5 stars)

"This is a great 3 parter first shown in Britain in April 2006. An adaptation of the fantastic novel The Line of Beauty by Alan Hollinghurst, the television drama stays very faithful to the book. It really encapsulates what it was to live in Britain in the 1980s, albeit a fairly rich circle. Dan Stevens does an amazing job in his portrayal of Nick Guest. This DVD is not to be misssed."
"He found himself yearning to know of their affairs",
M. J Leonard | Silver Lake, Los Angeles, CA United States | 10/28/2006
(4 out of 5 stars)

"Directed by Saul Dibbs, this opulent adaptation of Alan Hollinghurst's The Line of Beauty - his decadent coming of age novel about love, class, sex and money set in the hypocritical Thatcherite Eighties - is indeed a feast for the eye. Beautifully acted, with a spot-on affinity for detailing time and place, The Line of Beauty replicates Hollinghurst's hedonistic themes and the moral quandaries of Nick Guest (Dan Stevens), the titular middle-class outsider in this world of privilege.

As with the book, this film adaptation begins in 1983 when the young twenty-year-old Nick Guest is asked by his friend Toby Fedden (Oliver Coleman) to come and stay with his family in their sumptuous Notting Hill home in the Kensington Park Gardens estate. Gerald Fedden (Tim McInnerny) is a sycophantic Tory Member of Parliament who is on the rise, and is basking in the glory of Thatcher's economic policies. Gerald lives with loyal wife Rachel (Alice Krigg), his daughter Catherine (Hayle Atwell), and Toby.

Nick's comes from a provincial, terribly middle class background - his father is a humble antiques dealer - but he is welcomed into the Fedden family like a type of surrogate son and over time, he becomes a kind of minder to the neurotic and troubled Catherine. Nick is wined and dined, enthusiastically partaking of the family's lavish parties and political dinners, trying to impress them in their superficial discussions on literature, art and antiques.

Nick tries his best to promote civility amongst their affluent boredom, but he's unsure of his footing in this opulent, prosperous looking-glass world. In fact, Dan Stevens plays Nick with a kind of wide-eyed, eloquent fury, always nicely mannered, but forever hidden is the ever-present pretension and affectation, and as he gazes hopefully into the gilt arch of the hall mirror, this troubled man finds it reluctant to give its approval.

Nick constantly has to remind himself that he is doing this all for pleasure, yet when he falls in love with Leo, (Don Gilet) a lusty black cockney and socialist council worker, he finds himself caught in a Jamesian-like dilemma, wedged between the powerful, privileged life led by the Feddens and their friends, whilst also having to face the stark realities of Eighties Britain - the vast unemployment and the rise of AIDS.

The second and third episodes of the series feature Nick's relationship with Wani (Alex Wyndham), a long-lashed Lebanese millionaire playboy. While working as a creative consultant on Wani's new magazine, Ogee - named after the curve that is Hogarth's line of beauty - Nick is introduced to a world of non-stop threesomes, moneyed decadence, and cocaine-fueled days and nights. And of course this all culminates in the beautifully recreated coke-fuelled dance with "The Lady" herself, the Prime Minister, Margaret Thatcher (Kika Markham).

This BBC adaptation follows Hollinghurst's book pretty much to the letter, although in some instances, the film fails to catch much of the subtleness and nuance of the source material. The scenes involving Nick's sex and coke binges in the toilets and bedrooms of his grand surroundings seem hurriedly cut short, and the pivotal scene of the dreary piano recital fails to capture the tiniest social shenanigans and inherent boredom of all the guests as well as it could.

Also, when the Fedden's take Nick on their holiday to France, the pacing slows a bit, but thankfully picks up speed again in readiness for the final dénouement, the penultimate dance with The Lady. The cast is solid throughout, but Stevens is without a doubt the standout, imbuing Nick with a neediness and an obvious desire to be loved. He speaks his emotions and is in need of reassurance of his place within the Fedden household. He exists in a limbo space of not quite belonging, and in innocence of the dark undertones of the world he has entered.

Amidst the euphoria of first love, champagne and high society parties, the young graduate witnesses political scandal, deception, and the ultimate hypocrisy towards his sexuality, and that of his bretheren. The unsaid mantra is that it doesn't matter what you do, as long as you keep it quiet and do it in private. The Line of Beauty is indeed a richly textured coming-of-age story, and accomplished adaptation of a classic work of literature set against the backdrop of a ruthless decade of change and transformation. Mike Leonard October 06.
Gatsby Lives
Amos Lassen | Little Rock, Arkansas | 01/10/2007
(4 out of 5 stars)


Gatsby Lives

Amos Lassen and Cinema Pride

If "The Line of Beauty" (BBC Video) seems a bit familiar to you, then you probably have read F. Scott Fitzgerald's "The Great Gatsby". The two share a common storyline--a young man from an ordinary background who has grandiose ideas about the members of the "smart set". The major difference is that Fitzgerald's is very American and Alan Hollinghurst's (the author of the book from whom the movie was created) is very British. I could not think of a better title for this than "The Line of Beauty" because it is beautiful. The screenplay, the cinematography and the performances are uniformly excellent.
The movie deals almost exclusively with the British upper class but it also follows one man as he maneuvers his way through his own sexual awakening while living in the glamour (albeit fake) of the Tory government of the 1980's. The politics of the period are played down and instead we focus on Nick Guest (Dan Stevens) and the way he goes about meeting men. Nick is a real looker possessing baby blue yes, a great head of hair and a vibrant personality to boot.
The similarity between "Gatsby" and "Beauty" are evident between the two films. In both cases the narrator is a character and the "Nicks" of both were below the class level of the rest of the characters and both "Nicks" admire the upper class and at some point they believe that they are actually members of the upper class. This association with the upper class ends when both had to pay for the sins they committed against the people they so admired. Both are classics of social difference but "Beauty" has an extra subplot which deals with AIDS. "Beauty has great acting and an admirable script but then it was adapted from a prize winning novel.
I think one of the things that makes "The Line of Beauty" so endearing is that since not much seems to happen on the screen, it does happen in the mind of the viewer. In what seems to be a pretentious script at first, we soon learn that the actors in their excellent portrayals are only playing parts and what appeared to be pretentious was in reality not. As Americans, we are not familiar with the English class system so the class division may seem quite foreign to us.
Unquestionably the book is better than the movie but as an exercise in covering the period of time during which Margaret Thatcher was prime minister, it is ad admirable film.
I have read reviews that tore the film to bits and I cannot agree with them. Perhaps I have nothing but good experiences with films made by the BBC and "The Line of Beauty" is another flower in the bouquet. Well acted, well photographed and well written, it is a very good film.
The Disparities and Dichotomies Between Classes: Consequence
Grady Harp | Los Angeles, CA United States | 01/02/2007
(4 out of 5 stars)

"Alan Hollinghurst's brilliant novel THE LINE OF BEAUTY has been well adapted for film by Andrew Davies and brought to BBC television by director Saul Dibb and an outstanding cast. That television miniseries is now available on one DVD with each of the three parts intact as seen in the UK (not the parceled version shown in the USA) and it is a satisfying transition from Hollinghurst's visual poetry to cinematic depiction.

The story takes place from 1983 to 1987 in England - the Thatcher years - when class differences, hypocrisies, paparazzi, and homophobia were peaking. Essentially the tour guide through this time is one Nicholas Guest (Dan Stephens), a 'middle class' son of an antiques dealer who has just finished Oxford (on scholarship) and visits the home of his wealthy roommate Toby Fedden (Oliver Coleman) whose father Gerald (Tim McInnerny) is climbing the steps of politics as his warmly understanding and supportive wife Rachel (Alice Krige) looks on and worries about their knotty daughter Cat (Hayley Atwill) who loathes politics and sees the hypocrisy spoken by all of her father's associates. Nick is welcomed into the family with genuine warmth and he is smitten by the grandeur of their lifestyle and the beauty of their home: he becomes their surrogate son when Toby leaves for adventures with his shallow sweetheart, taking care of at times self-mutilating Cat.

Nicholas is gay, finds love with a lower class handsome black man Leo (Don Gilet), and shares his proclivities with Cat, his confidant. Insidiously Nick becomes a full part of the Fedden family, serving as a son would, entertaining at parties with them, and meeting the important people whom Gerald engages in his political pyramid. Among them is a Lebanese family whose wealthy son Wani Ouradi (Alex Wyndham) catches Nick's eye and though Wani is 'engaged' to a girl he also is a severely closeted gay man and Nick and Wani become entwined in drugs and love. When the spectre of AIDS begins to diminish the population of England some secrets are revealed, secrets of sexual liaisons that are intolerable for the Feddens and their associates yet lead to the hypocrisy of affairs within Gerald Fedden's protected world. It is the surfacing of the true lives of the characters that proves to be the downfall of Nicholas and his relationship to the world of wealth as well as the crumbling of the fragile political, media-infested world of Gerald Fedden's creation.

The cast is uniformly excellent and Dibb is able to coax the acrid aura of England of the 1980s with lucidity and a sensitive eye for revealing corruption and fractured human relationships. If the viewer is left with the feeling that Nicholas does not really deserve our concern because of his hollow devotion to wealth as a means to happiness then the point of Hollinghurst's novel has been well served. The film is not without flaws (a pianist at one of the soirees, we are told by supertitles, is paying Grieg's Piano Concerto....when that could not be further from reality!), and insufficient time is given to the Nick/Wani and Nick/Leo relationships to allow us into the inner sanctum of gay life in this tough time, etc., it still is an engrossing drama and one very well played by credible actors. Grady Harp, January 07"