Semi-successful update (2.5 stars)
Edward Aycock | New York, NY United States | 04/03/2006
(2 out of 5 stars)
"The updated concept and story deserves four stars. Transporting Henry James' "The Bostonians" to contemporary real estate crazy California was a smart move, and demonstrates how James' tale was one for the ages. The scriptwriters obviously did their homework, and it wasn't much of a leap to transform spiritualist Verena Tarrant into Zoe Tripp, the folk-singing daughter of hippies. In the original novel, Verena had spent time as a girl living on communes that practiced "free love" so the contemporary twist on the character was perfect. Also, this film retains the biting satiric edge of the novel, something the rather straighforward and humorless 1984 film adaptation of "The Bostonians" failed to do. The script even allows us to get a sense of the final "far from brilliant" pairing of two of the leads.
The problem with this movie is the central casting. Ileana Douglas is a wonderful actress, but the part of the dour, difficult Olive is underwritten and Douglas is unable to fully bring her to life. (It's notoriously hard to make Olive likeable as she is cold even in the novel.) Noah Wyle and the beautiful Kate Mara (who performs the songs herself) have very little chemistry and their arrival at a mutual understanding isn't convincing.
The smaller roles fare better, with the always great Cloris Leachman in the Eileen Boatwright/Miss Birdseye role, (Leachman brings to life the woman "whose charity began at home and ended nowhere") and Keith Carradine as Zoe's father and mentor. Valerie Perrine, looking radiant, pops up out of nowhere in the small role of Zoe's mother, leading me to wonder where she's been all these years.
Worth the rental but won't be a classic."
See what the Hippies are up to. . .
Rachael Montague | Port St. Lucie, FL | 03/13/2006
(5 out of 5 stars)
"This movie is a must watch for everyone, but especially for those who live in the San Francisco Bay Area. I recognized a lot of the beautiful local scenery in the movie.
"The Californians" humourously depicts the dicotomy that occurs when the hippie-spirit meets capitalism. Besides humor, there is an undercurrent of romance and beauty that is characteristic of beautiful Northern California. The images from this movie will stay with you."