E. A Solinas | MD USA | 01/20/2007
(4 out of 5 stars)
"Ignore the idiotic title that belongs on a cheesy romance novel, because it's not representative of "Passion's Way." Instead, this moderately steamy costume drama is based on Edith Wharton's novel "The Reef," and more or less follows the book faithfully, with some beautiful settings and (mostly) excellent acting.
Charles Darrow (Timothy Dalton) has been reunited with his first love Anna (Sela Ward), now a widow living in France. He plans to propose to her, but on the train receives a telegram telling him not to come. Angry and hurt, he decides to escort pretty Sophy Viner (Alicia Witt), a feisty young companion, around Paris for awhile. Unsurprisingly, they end up in bed, and part amicably.
A few months later, Anna calls Charles to her mother-in-law's chateau, and explains why she cancelled his visit. Their romance is back on track... until Charles sees that Sophy is the new governess, and engaged to Anna's stepson. They try to keep their past fling a secret, but soon Anna learns the truth, and faces a terrible choice.
Wharton was channeling Henry James in this particular book, and "Passion's Way" has the same languid, inward-looking feeling. But it's also a study of tough relationship questions -- should infidelity be forgiven, and at what stage of a possible relationship does it become infidelity? And if someone wrongs you, can you trust them again?
It's also very prettily staged, with beautiful dresses, country picnics, Paris operas, a gorgeous chateau and some exquisite woods. The direction is slow and stately, and just when you think all will be well the plot takes another twist, although the ending leaves something to be desired -- though faithful to the book, it feels like a capitulation.
As a Wharton lead, Dalton is a dud -- Charles is weak and easily upset, and Dalton seems befuddled by how to handle him. Fortunately the women's roles are juicier. On the other hand, Ward is glowingly brilliant as the strong, somewhat lonely woman who finds passion in midlife, and Witt is also good as the poor governess. The scene where these women face off is the best of the movie.
Despite its awful title, "Passion's Way" is a pretty solid -- though flawed -- adaptation of Wharton's novel, and a nice little love triangle with a semi-satisfying finale."
Not much passion
L O'connor | richmond, surrey United Kingdom | 11/26/2005
(2 out of 5 stars)
"This film is set in France in 1911. Timothy Dalton meets an old girlfriend who he hasn't seen for years, since they last met she has been married and widowed and has an adult stepson. She invites him to stay at her place in the country, but then sends him a telegram putting him off at the last moment. Thinking she doesn't care for him any more, he embarks on an affair with a young girl he has previously been acquainted with who is at a loose end in Paris.
Later he gets a letter from old girlfriend and decides she does still care for him, so goes off to stay with her. To his dismay, he discovers the girl he had an affair with in Paris is now governess to the old girlfriend's daughter, and moreover is engaged to be married to old girlfriend's stepson. He decides the girl doesn't really love the stepson andtakes it upon himself to persuade the girl to break off her engagemnt (what business is it of his, I should like to know, since he doesn't want to marry her himself?). Old girlfriend finds out about the affair with the girl and is upset, but eventually they are reconciled.
And that's about it really. I kept waiting for something interesting to happen, but nothing ever did. I thought maybe the two women would have a catfight over Dalton, or perhaps the stepson would shoot him in a jealous rage, or the girl might set out to prise him away from old girlfriend, but none of these things happened. Everyone is very polite, restrained and civil, and passion is in short supply. By the end of the film I was still waiting for the story to start. Everyone gives good performances and do the best they can with the very dull material, but that isn't much. A good film to watch if you are suffering from insomnia.
An Excellent movie
ZMA | Nashville, TN, USA | 10/14/2006
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Passion's way movie is based on the Novel "The Reef" by Edith Wharton. The American novelist Edith Wharton spent most of her professional life in Europe. "The Reef" exemplifies her close observation of Americans in France, their inner lives and social conflicts.
On his way to France to see his beloved, the widowed Anna Leath (outstanding perfomance by the always beautiful and talented Sela Ward), Charles Darrow (Timothy Dalton-former James Bond) receives a telegram telling him not to come due to an "unexpected obstacle." As time passes and he doesn't receive an explanation for the delay, he experiences growing feelings of disappointment and humiliation.
As he waits undetermined as to whether to go back to London or to press forward, he encounters Sophy Viner, a recently unemployed servant of a woman whose dinners he once attended. She is on her way to Paris to look up old friends and to pursue a theatrical career. Darrow, who feels sorry for himself and the loss he thinks he is about to suffer, finds himself manipulating Sophy into staying with him to attend the theatre and finally into a short liaison. He is unaware that she has fallen in love with him and his kindness in her hour of uncertainty.
Four months later, Anna Leath eagerly anticipates Darrow's arrival. During the walk they had in the garden, Anna expresses her love for Charles.
Anna: "I'm not a naive young girl. I know...of course I KNOW...but there are things a woman feels...when what she knows doesn't make any difference. It's not that I want you to explain--I mean about that particular evening. It's only that I want you to know the whole of my feeling. I didn't know what it was till I saw you again. I never dreamed I should say such things to you!"
Charles: "I never dreamed I should be here to hear you say them!but now that you have said it.... the only thing that matters is that we are here together and I want you to be my wife."
Anna is also excited because her stepson, Owen Leath, wants to do something that they know will upset his aristocratic, old-fashioned grandmother; he wants to marry Anna's daughter's governess, who is none other than Sophy Viner.
Darrow and Sophy's secret is safe with one another, yet Darrow is faced by the uncomfortable fact that the ignorant Anna wants him to support Owen's choice of a woman he knows to be unsuitable but whom he pities. He tries to convince Sophy that Owen is not right for her. "You'd rather I didn't marry any friend of yours," she says "not as a question, but as a mere dispassionate statement of fact." She is a painful reminder that both of them have broken social conventions.
This is a outsanding movie for people who appreciate understanding the complex nature of human behavior. The movie finishes with these lines:
"What I meant was that when you've lived a little longer you'll see what complex blunderers we all are: how we're struck blind sometimes, and mad sometimes--and then, when our sight and our senses come back, how we have to set to work, and build up, little by little, bit by bit, the precious things we'd smashed to atoms without knowing it. Life's just a perpetual piecing together of broken bits."
Overall this movie is a truly outstanding movie with excellent performances.
Attractive Period Drama
Michelle reason | Laporte. CO | 10/05/2005
(5 out of 5 stars)
"First of all I am a huge Timothy Dalton fan. I also adore period movies. So these 2 factors were enough for me to buy this film. Did not know what to expect but was happilly surprised at how drawn in I was by this story. I guess this is more a chick flik. But sensitive men should enjoy it too. Good acting all around. Would make a great addition to anyone's collection who enjoys these sorts of films."