Vividly and brilliantly made!
Jessica | The Bay State | 04/09/2001
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Yet ANOTHER film to add to my favorite list of films! Could Diane Keaton be any more appealing and exquisite?!?!?! This beautiful movie deserves much MORE credit than it got! On a basic note, this movie is about a prison warden's wife, Kate Soffel, who meets and falls in love with a prisoner, Ed Biddle, on death row. Of course, that's very intriguing because how can two people on total opposite sides of life be together? I cannot say how emotional I was at the ending. It's impossible to sum up this exceptional movie in a few words. More or less, this story only applies to every person who have experienced true love, but also felt pain. Despite the conditions, the lovers manage to find a way to be together forever, and that's true love in its purest. The landscape, winter, contributes to the emptiness and instability of Kate and her husband's marriage, and the violet poem contributes to the youth and beauty of Kate and Ed's doomed, but beautiful relationship. It strikes your emotional chords at very opportune times, and it also gets you thinking about love back in the 1900's and the real Kate Soffel. Simply remarkable.I cannot put any of the words I'm thinking about the movie in clarification- I am telling this abstractly and undefined, because it's the way I felt. I felt the way I felt, and this is the best I can do. I am still emotionally attached to this movie, and of course, no clear explanations come with emotions. I have to admit, I found the ending S A D and unpredictable. It still brings tears to my eyes whenever I think of it. It's beautiful and painful. When Kate felt pain at the very ending, I also felt pain, too, for the doomed lovers. It's just so sad. I found the very last minutes striking. A voice sounding out lines from the violet poem while the camera looms down and swoops past prison cells... "A little violet from across the way came to cheer a lonely prisoner in his cell one day...." and from there, unfolds the heartbreaking story of Kate Soffel and Ed Biddle. DO N O T MISS IT. YOU HAVE BEEN WARNED."
R. Penola | NYC, NY United States | 12/24/1999
(4 out of 5 stars)
"I love the steely, snowy look of this movie, and its bizarre, infinitely compelling love story. Diane Keaton, one of the best screen actresses ever, here portrays a woman who is teetering on madness; that we never really know her state of sanity or Mel Gibson's true intentions only adds to the mystery and desperateness of the story, which by all accounts is true. The warmth of the warden's home, at Christmastime no less, contrasted with the chill of the Pittsburgh snow and the brutality contained within that prison, is remarkably effective. Gillian Armstrong directs like a painter with a brush, and every scene contains a stark beauty. I thought the chemistry between Gibson and Keaton was electric. Mark Isham's spare and original score punctuates the tragedy and isolation in these characters in a very effective way; it is a musical score that never panders or overstates, but quietly does the trick. It is not a classic film, but it does pull you along, and there are plenty of wise choices along the way. If you do not mind taking an emotional journey without an uplift, this is for you."
Pulled me into 1901 Pittsburg from the very first scene.
Debbie Holland | Palatka, FL USA | 10/16/2002
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Mrs. Soffel (Diane Keaton) is based on the true story of a emotionally starved Mother of three. Her prison warden husband is not unsypathetic, but hasn't a clue as to what she's feeling.Her daily routine of reading the Bible to the inmates can no
longer fulfill her emotional void...that is until the day she encounter's the new, guilt-in-question, death row inmates Jack Matthew Modine) and Ed (Mel Gibson) Biddle.Rules of society were strict in 1901, but with death at stake, Ed Biddle begins a methodical plan to seduce the warden's wife to help them escape.Black and White turn grey when it comes to just who is seducing who. Once the Biddle's escape the confines of their cells, it is Ed(Gibson)who doesn't want to leave "Kate" behind. After the breakout is discovered the next morning, it seems only a Sheriff with a mind that can think the "unthinkable" suspects the warden's wife has escaped with the two deathrow inmates and not as their hostage...On the run, Kate and Ed's passion grow until most certainly, one feels death is the only thing that can break them apart.Mark Isham's dark film score is perfect. Who would have imagined Keaton and Gibson paired? Up until this movie, I had chalked
Gibson up to a pretty face with not much depth, BUT..."
Keaton and Gibson come through in Mrs. Soffel
Nora | Pearl River, New York | 04/01/2000
(3 out of 5 stars)
"Mrs. Soffel is a dark, compelling movie set in a Pittsburg prison in 1901. Diane Keaton plays a warden's wife, desperate for hope and pleasure within the prison walls. Mel Gibson and Matthew Modine play the Biddle brothers - two young men who are sentenced to death for a crime they did not commit. The gloomy landscape is also a major character in this movie - accentuating the hopelessness of the characters that inhabit this film. I was affected by the bond that grew between Keaton and Gibson as Mrs. Soffel (played by Keaton) entreats Ed Biddle (played by Gibson) on the need for prayer and preparation for death. As they spend more time with each other, they spend less time talking about death and more about love and hope. She assists in his escaping, and the movie takes off from there. Diane Keaton is my absolutely favorite actress; honesty pervades every move in all her roles. Mel Gibson is an actor I largely ignored; however, after seeing this film I recommend he play more seriously romantic roles. The sexual and emotional attachment between these two characters was intense. I wish I could have changed the ending in this love story. After seeing Mrs. Soffel, I am interested in learning more about the actual woman who boldly escaped from her own repressive environment to follow her heart."