The story is about a young American academic, Omar Razaghi (Metwally), who attempts to persuade the reluctant heirs of a celebrated Uruguayan novelist, Jules Gund, to allow him to write an authorized biography of the writer, who has recently died. Undeterred by the executors’ adamant refusal, and urged on by his vehemently ambitious girlfriend (Lara), another academic, Razaghi turns up uninvited on the family’s doorstep in a remote corner of Uruguay, hoping to change their minds. Before long, he is joined there by his super-efficient girlfriend, Deirdre.
The Gund family, living in two big rundown houses on an overgrown, steamy estancia named “Ocho Rios,” reacts to the intrusion in different ways. The writer’s widow Caroline Gund (an unusually acerbic Laura Linney) stubbornly states with every breath that she will never, never give her permission. The writer’s brother Adam Gund (Hopkins) has a contrary opinion: a biography can only help to keep the writer’s name before a book-buying public. The writer’s young mistress Arden Langdon (Gainsbourg) at sides with Caroline. Then, as she begins to fall for Omar — or is she succumbing only to the charm of someone, anyone, new? — she changes her mind. Two furtther supporters of Omar are Gund’s ten-year-old daughter Portia, and Pete, Adam’s practical-minded companion (Sanada).
How Omar comes in time to have his wish granted, and the effect of that on his future, makes up the plot of this film about the random nature of love and the ways in which we avoid or confront life’s choices. —Merchant Ivory Productions
Thanks to the content of his films, American director James Ivory has spent much of his long career being mistaken for an Englishman. Few filmmakers have been more closely associated with a particular type of genre than Ivory and his longtime collaborator, producer Ismail Merchant. The very mention of the hyphenate Merchant-Ivory effortlessly conjures up heavily stylized images of Edwardian England, replete with stiff upper lips, effete aristocrats, and young women confined by both corsets and repressed desire. However, although much of Ivory’s reputation has been built on his E.M. Forster-adapted period dramas, he has also earned considerable respect for the insightful examinations on the interplay of different cultures inherent in almost all of his work — particularly his earlier films about India — and his and Merchant’s ability to make quality films on a minimal budget.
Born in Berkeley, California, on June 7, 1928, Ivory grew up in Klamath Falls, Oregon, where his father… read more