The director Michael Lindsay-Hogg has a name that sounds British despite the fact that he is a New Yorker by birth. Maybe that association derives from the fact that he's primarily helmed television films--segments of Brid... more »eshead Revisited, for example, as well as a pile of music videos for English bands like the Who and the Rolling Stones. One of his few ventures into feature filmmaking (another was the little-seen Frankie Starlight) is the 1990 film The Object of Beauty, which also looks, sounds, and feels British in sensibility. The film is set in a tony London hotel, the weather is England-dreary, and the clothes (when the actors are wearing them) are tweedish and woolly in appearance. And the story is essentially repressed and internal save for the brash American performances of John Malkovich and Andie MacDowell, who play a couple living way above their limited financial means. When Jake (Malkovich) bottoms out in a business deal, he urges Tina (MacDowell) to sell her little Henry Moore sculpture, an object of great beauty. Such beauty, in fact, that a young mute hotel maid decides to steal it for her own. The actress Rudi Davies, who plays the maid, steals more than the Moore, however. She sneaks the film out from under Malkovich and MacDowell, who was just coming off of her sex, lies, and videotape acclaim, and who is quite good here as well. The Object of Beauty is too subtle in its message--Jake and Tina lose their last monetary chance and in penury begin to discover who they are as people--to let us care about such a pouty pair, and the "hilarious mix-ups and mayhem" that the film promises are, in actuality, tame and trite. --Paula Nechak« less
"This little gem of a movie is one of those rare movies for grownups. The characters are real, imperfect people, not cardboard cutouts. Unfortunately, the full-frame DVD doesn't do the movie justice. The sound is horrible, the picture is not especially good, and there are no extras whatsoever. Too bad. This movie deserves an audience, but this DVD will not help it get one."
Still a great movie, inspite of the DVD edition
Phyllis Rawley | El Paso, TX | 09/14/2003
(4 out of 5 stars)
"I was totally frustrated sharing one of my all time favorites with my husband and not being able to hear the dialog that makes this movie so unique. This movie has a depth, rich use of language, passionate characters, a plot and the classic American happy ending. I still learn something every time I watch it, but was surprised to find it in the Comedy section. And I love that I still cry when the deaf girl explains why she stole the piece. Great Art moves you. And for art lovers who want the real Henry Moore experience, go to the Art Gallery of Ontario, in Toronto."
Good Movie, Bad DVD
Atlanta Guy | East Coast, USA | 05/25/2003
(3 out of 5 stars)
"This is a really good film for people who appreciate subtlety and somewhat offbeat character development. This will not impress people who tend to gravitate more towards action or overt drama. Malkovich and MacDowell turn in understated, nicely done performances as the films antiheroes, and they accomplish the somewhat difficult task of making us feel for these self-involved characters. All the other characters are played well and the different plots mesh nicely.The only complaint I have is with the DVD itself. The audio was abysmal on my system, and I am not really the pickiest of audiophiles. In fact, this is the only time that I've been disappointed in or even noticed a DVD's lack of sound quality. My player has a special feature that brings dialogue to the center speaker, and for some reason it would not work with this DVD. The dialogue was difficult to understand throughout, and I often had to adjust the volume and replay bits of scenes to figure out what had been said. Also, there are zero special features on this DVD... no trailers, no commentary, nada.I would wait for a better transfer rather than buying this DVD version of the film. It's definitely worth a rent, however, for those who can appreciate what it has to offer."
Beautiful concept - inadequate writing
Larry VanDeSande | 08/12/1999
(2 out of 5 stars)
"This movie disappointed me. It's billed as a 'low key comedy', but ends up being so low key, you wonder (with the exception of a couple of scenes) where the comedy is. Most of my disappointment, however, stems from the script: aside from the chambermaid and her brother, I simply did not care what happened to the characters. The juxtaposition of the two ways of life was excellent - but it's too obvious where the scriptwriter's sympathies lie."
Clever and somewhat satisfying
Larry VanDeSande | Mason, Michigan United States | 04/24/2005
(3 out of 5 stars)
"Here's a real clever little comedy about vacuous people and a stolen piece of art that turns into a morality tale.
John Malkovich and Andi McDowell -- who both bare their backsides as well as their souls in this flick -- are a couple escaping something and living in London far beyond their means. As a way to resolve this they hatch a plan to swindle an art dealer with an expensive trinket that looks like a Hurst shifter from the 1970s.
The little mystery about deceit, swindling and lost souls becomes much more than this when an attendant at the hotel where the pair live decides she is in love with the piece of art -- and takes it home. What follows is conundrum after conundrum for a half-dozen people, including all the principals, told in a very witty and funny style.
Lolita Davidovitch steals scene after scene as the deaf mute that makes up rooms in the hotel and makes off with the object of beauty, which she says speaks to her. Everyone gets theirs in the end, as the small diversion of a movie concludes with its characters exiting with less than they arrived.
This movie is good fun that delivers rewards to attentive viewers far bigger than its ideas."