Don't vote for this one
Peter Shelley | Sydney, New South Wales Australia | 11/05/2000
(1 out of 5 stars)
"This 1996 Italian-French co-production by the Taviani brothers is like an imported box of eaten chocolates - pretty but empty. Based on a novel by Goethe, the story reads like a folk tale with a weak ending. The title refers to a love quartet in a Tuscan villa where an aristocratic married couple become involved with the husband's best friend and the wife's goddaughter, and their affections are traded. The Taviani's gives us a laboured chalk-board explaination of this equation, but also a sex scene with imagined interchangeable partners. Goethe gets all mystical in having the product of the night born by the wife, but with features of the best friend and goddaughter. The child however gets an unintentional laugh since it's thick red hair makes it resemble Chucky from the Child Play series. The film is hampered by a narration by Giancarlo Giannini and dubbing of the actors, since it appears only Fabrizio Bentivoglio as the best friend is speaking Italian, and the others French. In spite of my disappointment over the dubbing of Huppert in particular, and her being saddled with an unflattering black wig, she manages to invest her wife with humour and pathos. Ironically the dubbing of Jean-Hugues Anglade as the husband and the Taviani's direction make him less mannered than usual, though his scenes of physical injury recall his indulgent death scene in Queen Margo. The opening image of a drowned statue of Venus made me think this would be a story of female suffering, and though this image is never given any resonance, there is a disproportionate guilt about the situation as Huppert feels guilty and Anglade does not. We may already think that any man who is prepared to give up Isabelle Huppert is a fool but when he also displays no grief over the death of a family member, all empathy goes out the window. The Taviani's style saves this from being a total failure. They provide some nice editing dissolves, a dance on weak wooden boards of a bridge, and a shocking act of refusal to eat. The final image of a child servant crying over a loss like an animal in the wilderness might have worked better if the story had come together in a more satisfying way, and I could have done without the running gag of the same servant carrying luggage according to her employer's whim."
A is with B.C is with D.A goes with C and B goes with D...an
KerrLines | Baltimore,MD | 05/01/2007
(1 out of 5 stars)
"Sometimes anymore than two can upset the delicate balance.When Carlotta and Edouard meet again after a twenty year absence,their love is rekindled,they marry and retire to his inherited Tuscan villa for at least one year of wedded bliss.Edouard,feeling the need to invite his old chum Otto to help with further land development on the estate does so and,unfortunately the rest of the film is doomed to play out what Carlotta's face expresses....the inevitable "I don't think this is such a good idea,Edouard.Three is a crowd!!!".Carlotta invites her step daughter,Otelia, and four people at the Tuscan retreat seems to right the balance again.The rest of the story is so silly that I will not waste yours or my time.
I will basically conclude here with these few thoughts: If this had not been an adaptation of a Goethe novel,a period piece of the 1800's, lavishly shot in breathtaking Tuscany, and starring Isabelle Huppert, I would have NEVER completed this positively insufferable movie.It is that bad! I would have loved to be more generous and genial in my remarks, but this truly was mind-numbingly horrible. Spoken in very rapid Italian (one fights to keep up with the whirlingly fast and long yellow subtitles!) with positively ridiculous closeup (no less) voiceovers for the French Huppert,the acting is as wooden as a nutcracker in a ballet (actually a nutcracker would have been more interesting!) Huppert, who has seen moments of brilliance on screen, follows the same line of tiresome icyness as she portrayed in MADAME BOVARY.The rest of the actors are completely forgettable.
Apart from the cinematography, this film would have been 0 stars."
Eeny, meeny, miniy, moe
Grady Harp | Los Angeles, CA United States | 07/16/2010
(3 out of 5 stars)
"'Eeny, meeny, miny, moe is a children's counting rhyme, used to select "it" for games and similar purposes.' Writers/Directors Paolo and Vittorio Taviani have reduced Johann Wolfgang Goethe novel "Die Wahlverwandtschaften" into a somewhat stilted, pseudo-intellectual game and renamed it "Le affinità elettive" (or Elective Affinities). The result if a stodgy and at times only semi-interesting twist on love affairs gone awry.
In the 18th century Countess Carlotta (Isabelle Hupert) encounters her love of 20 years ago, one Baron Eduardo (Jean-Hugues Anglade). They reform their affinity and marry. One year later we find them happily at home in the Baron's Tuscan villa, a home the Baron adores for its geometric beauty (science) and Carlotta loves for its artistic aura (art). Eduardo wants to complete the buildings on their vast land holdings in Tuscany and convinces Carlotta to allow him to invite a famous architect Ottone (Fabrizio Bentivoglio), long a cherished childhood friend, to move in with them to complete the architectural possibilities the site offers. Carlotta has premonitions of bad omens and decides to invite her somewhat neurotic, asocial goddaughter Ottilia (Marie Gillain) to move in with the growing household and to be company to Ottone. After endless talking sprees there develops an affinity between Carlotta and Ottone and an equally strong one between Eduardo and Ottilia. Clandestine encounters become public when Carlotta discovers she is pregnant, the baby is born, looking very much like Ottone!, and a tragedy occurs when Ottilia is caring for the baby: the baby drowns. Ottilia return to her neurotic shell of isolation, the affairs are discovered and tragedies continue. There really is no ending to the story: it just stops.
For those of us who admire the consistently fine work by actress Isabelle Huppert this film is a draw. But sadly even the gifted Huppert (with her French spoken lines, along with the other two French actors, annoyingly dubbed into Italian) is unable to make us care for anything or anyone in this experiment of love. But perhaps that is more the fault of Goethe: 'Die Wahlverwandtschaften (also translated under the title Kindred by Choice) is the third novel by Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, published in 1809. The title is taken from a scientific term once used to describe the tendency of chemical species to combine with certain substances or species in preference to others. The novel is based on the metaphor of human passions being governed or regulated by the laws of chemical affinity, and examines whether or not the science and laws of chemistry undermine or uphold the institution of marriage, as well as other human social relations.' Like the metaphor on which this film is based this is a laboratory experiment rather than a dissection of love gone awry. Incidentally, this musical score by Carlo Crivelli has to be one of the worst ever created! Grady Harp, July 10"