Tulip Fever
2017, 1080hd
Tulip Fever takes place in the 17th century, not long after Shakespeare's time, and it is structured very much like a Shakespearean comedy.

An prosperous elderly merchant rescues a beautiful young woman from an orphanage and gives her a wonderful life. She does not enjoy physical contact with him and he's a stuffy bore, but he's basically a decent person and she feels grateful to him. The man desperately wants children, but he does not appear to be capable of producing them, and she wishes she could stop having sex with him.

The situation is further complicated when the vain husband hires a hunky young painter to create an official portrait of the couple. I guess you can figure the next plot twist: the wife initiates an affair with the hunk. Now the truly Shakespearean twists begin. The wife uses her maid's cloak to sneak off to the artist's loft. The maid's boyfriend spots her and thinks she is the maid - cheating on him. He becomes despondent and leaves the country, unaware that the maid is pregnant.

After some stops and starts, the two women finally come to the conclusion that they can solve each other's problem. The maid is about to have a baby, and the wife needs one, so they resolve to pretend that the wife is pregnant. When the baby is born, they will tell the husband the baby is his. Of course the husband will know what's going on if he sees his wife naked, but the solution to that makes the wife even happier - no sex, separate bedrooms. And the coup de grace is that the wife will pretend to die in childbirth, thus permanently obviating her sexual obligations to the old coot and allowing her to start a new life with her young lover.  The women find a sleazy doctor to facilitate the plan, and they are off.

Not credible, you think? Yeah, you're probably right, but it's sort of fun, isn't it?. There are several more unlikely, silly plot twists along the way, but you can discover those for yourselves if you're interested.

The Shakespearean connection goes deeper than the plot structure. This movie will probably remind you quite a bit of another period piece about the same general historical era, Shakespeare in Love. Both films are essentially love stories from the Weinstein company which combine elements of comedy and drama, and feature Judy Dench in a small but important role. In both cases there is a stuffy rich man cuckolded by a young artistic man. In both cases there is a great focus on a specific and popular profession in the late 16th-early 17th century: the theater business in one, the tulip business in the other. In both cases, a major character starts a new life in the New World. Both include unlikely plot premises, and both introduce unrealistic elements of farce. The resemblance between the two films is not coincidental because the two films share the same screenwriter, Tom Stoppard, who is a great admirer and student of Shakespeare. (He also wrote the Hamlet-inspired play Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are Dead in the period before he became an A-list screenwriter.) I love Stoppard's work, but he's in his 80s now, and I think he might be out of ideas and out of touch. In addition to the script's reliance on Stoppard's familiar, old-fashioned devices, the dialogue is awkward, there's not much magic written into the main romance, and every single plot twist is telegraphed so obviously as to ruin the potential surprise or even to elicit groans.

This movie was actually filmed back in 2014 and had been languishing in distribution hell for years before getting a modest 700-theater release in September. The producers' lack of confidence was well founded. The film opened in 23rd place and never gained momentum.


The nudity was also disappointing, especially since there was not much more than what we had already seen in the trailer.

Alicia Vikander was naked.
Most of the exposure consisted of her tiny breasts, and even that was not in good light.

Holliday Grainger was topless in a very brief, very dark scene as the maid.

Cara Delevingne had a tiny role as a thieving prostitute.
She performed a momentary (and gratuitous) topless scene.


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