Meg Ryan (KATE AND LEOPOLD) and Robert Downey Jr. (WONDER BOYS) head a superb cast of stars in this stylish and provocative story of love, power, and seduction! Robert Merivel (Downey) is a young man who seems to have ever... more »ything ... until a passionate affair leads to scandal, suddenly leaving him heartbroken and penniless. But it's only after losing it all that Merivel discovers who he really is and -- with the love of a beautiful woman (Ryan) -- becomes the man he never dreamed he could be! Also featuring Sam Neill (JURASSIC PARK) and Hugh Grant (NOTTING HILL), this critically acclaimed and entertaining motion picutre won two 1995 Academy Awards(R) for Best Achievement in Art Direction and Costume Design.« less
Lorraine S. (rainey) from WOODLAND HLS, CA Reviewed on 4/22/2008...
Loved this movie!
The performances are flawless. The art direction is completely lush. The story is achingly beautiful, gratifying and thoughtful. In fact, I keep wanting Robert Downey Jr. to have the kind of restoration that he gave his character so believably and touchingly.
I think it was greatly undervalued when it was made. Fortunately, it's on DVDs and we can all enjoy it over and over again.
1 of 1 member(s) found this review helpful.
The rise, fall & restoration of the physician Robert Merivel
Lawrance M. Bernabo | The Zenith City, Duluth, Minnesota | 04/21/2004
(5 out of 5 stars)
""Restoration" won a pair of Oscars for Eugenio Zanetti's Art Direction-Set Deocration and James Acheson's Costume Design, and there is a sense in which the spectacular sets threaten to overwhelm the story, which is based on the novel by Rose Tremain. This is a gorgeous film where the camera often takes time to focus on every detail as we are introduced to one spectacular set after another that presents the lavish court of King Charles II, who returned to the English throne following the restoration of the Stuart monarch. As far as period costume dramas go this 1994 film is virtually in a class by itself, and how it was made for only $18 million is beyond belief.
The reason that many viewers may not cotton to this film is that it is one in which we are repeatedly misled as to what the film is above. Even with the hint of the film's title, which is at face value the term used to describe the reign of Charles II, "Restoration" makes more sense retrospectively. However, I liked the idea that my idea of what the film was about kept evolving. After all the times I have sat through predictable films and been ahead of the characters and the plot, I can certainly enjoy trying to keep up with a story for once and being surprised by the twists and turns in the narrative.
The story is about Robert Merivel (Robert Downey Jr.), a young physician of great promise who is summoned to court to attend to a patient at the command of the King (Sam Neill). Merivel succeeds, albeit more through luck than skill, and is appointed to a position in court. Seduced by life in the palace Merivel accepts the position, which means turning his back on his studies and his best friend John Pearce (David Thewlis), a Quaker. However, the King finds another use for Merivel and marries him to his most spirited mistress, Lady Cedlia (Polly Walker). After the lavish wedding Merivel gets a knighthood and a huge country estate, but the one thing that is denied him is sex with his "wife." Having been ordered not to fall in love with Celia, we believe we know what this film is going to be about. However, in that regard we are both right and wrong.
Despite the glamour of Merivel's rise in the first part of this film, it is his fall that produces the true drama. It is a long fall, hard fall, set against the backdrop of two cataclysmic events in the London of that time: the Black Plague and the Great Fire. It is not that Merivel finds himself during these trying times, but rather than he remembers himself. Downey's performance covers a lot of ground. When he is the fool he embraces the role wholeheartedly, but at the end when he has restored to him the most precious thing that he has lost the look on his face is a moment of transcendent joy. Of course, it is impossible to watch this film today and not wish the actor had taken its moral to heart.
I have enjoyed watching this film several times and one of these days I am going to have to read Tremain's novel. I suspect that the screenplay by Rupert Walters is being extremely faithful, but I would also think that Tremain has all sorts of marvelous period details that I would enjoy. Another thing that impresses me about Michael Hoffman's film is that it has Ian McKellen and Meg Ryan in what are essentially small, but pivotal, roles. "Restoration" is a film where you just go along for the ride, enjoy the pretty pictures, and be surprised at the end to discover how far you have come from where you started."
Poor DVD Transfer
J. L Roth | 01/20/2003
(1 out of 5 stars)
"I am very disapointed. I loved the movie enough to get the DVD only to find that for one of the most beautifull movies ever made it is one of the worst DVD transfers I have ever seen. First, I don't know why Hollywood cannot get it screen format act together. This movie is not wide screen animorphic ( to fite wide screen TV's) nor is it surround sound, as it says on the back under special features. You have to look closer to see the word "Stereo" after running time and color. The first release of The Last of The Mohicans had the same screen format problem but thank God they came out with what they then called an enhanced widescreen version that fixed the problem. Please Mirimax restore Restoration to true wide screen dolby 5.1 surround sound and I will give it an easy 5 stars"
A parallel to the life of Robert Downey, Jr.
k2 | Cleveland, OH USA | 05/09/2002
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Here is one of my favorite films and one of the best period pieces of recent years. Occuring during the English Restoration period, it is also the story of a soul's restoration to recognize one's talents and one's destiny. Based on the novel by Rose Tremain, it cuts across the events of the era using the life of the character Robert Merivel, played by Robert Downey, Jr. The beauty of the costumes and art direction was accomplished within a miniscule budget (the total film budget was less than $20 million) but resulted in winning the Oscar for both categories. As always, Mr. Downey Jr. proves that he is one of the top actors in America today. It is a pity that his personal life has been so tragic and yet, here within this film, he portrays an individual bent on self-destruction rather than recognizing and exercising his talents. You want to shout, "Robert, do you watch any of your films?" It is funny, touching and inspiring. Sadly, not a box office smash, but it was a difficult movie to promote. Also, pay attention to the film score, a great combination of classical music of the period and an excellent score by James Newton Howard. And, to Mr. Downey Jr., who I hope can get his personal troubles behind him so that he can enjoy his talents, there is a line for him that is quite appropriate: "Lord, send a light to show Robert the way.""
Surprisingly good considering the cast.
J. L Roth | Atlanta, GA | 04/18/2005
(5 out of 5 stars)
"I had little hope upon seeing the cast of characters that this movie would prove little more than a sorrowful period piece. I was wrong. This film was excellent. Robert Downey Jr. as the central character was a bit over the top campy at times, but it worked for this piece. He plays a self indulgent physician whose introduction to the viewer comes as he whines about having to treat sick people and has sold his instruments into pawn and is begging his father for the money to get them back. Downey does a fine job as the over indulgent young man who is made a fool by the King and must learn the lessons that his friend, a simple Quaker physician (played surprisingly well by David Thewlis, who himself is normally the nail in the coffin for any movie hoping to be remotely good)and a mad woman (Meg Ryan). It is the performances of the actors and the over all beauty of the film that makes it stand out as exceptional. Sam Neil was delightfully wicked as King Charles II, Meg Ryan was hauntingly memorable as the mad woman whose tragic life is healed by Downey's physician and who teaches him about love, and though it pains one to say it, by David Thewlis whose portrayal of Dr. John Pierce not only makes Downey's transformation into a compassionate human being believable but also is surprisingly good in and of itself. The man who usually looks like he went to the Nathan Lane school of acting, steals much of this movie with a quiet dignity."