An aristocratic wife commissions a young, cocky artist to sketch her husband’s property while he is away, in exchange for room, board, and one sexual favor per drawing. This arrangement soon spirals out of control, and the draughtsman finds him the prime suspect of a murder…
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The surface of this movie—an absurdist kinky British costume drama/mystery—is so delightfully weird that it seems a shame to deconstruct it, even if that's what it's crying out for. What we have is a strange, cheeky dark comedy about the creation and interpretation of art, where lust puts the lie to intellect, and any attempt at control is just begging for punishment. My first Greenaway, and I'm tempted for more.
I saw the 3 hour version, and I didn't think it was as good. This is one of those films you can watch more than once due to the complexity of the plot. It shows his concern for subtext, while not being as formal as subsequent films.
Such a delicious piece of English deviltry, all presented with wit, a large serving of painterly tableaux and a touch of the mysteriously/erotically perverse to modify the palate. Grab your best ostrich-plumed hat and join the ingenious gentry in throwing pearls before swine--it's Peter Greenaway. A modern classic.
A stunner of a debut film. What's not to love of it? The setting alone... The idea of telling a story that takes place in England in an unusual era (17th Century instead of 18th) is so worth of praise! Then of course the images, the music, the writing, the wigs...
Spectacular performance by the young actress Anne-Louise Lambert. This film made me reflect about social games and the ingenious minds well prepared to play it. Amazing camera moves and flawless costume work as well.
It's like a 1000 ravishing paintings come to life. Greenaway has crafted a maddeningly puzzling film that is one of the most unpretentious pretentious films I've seen. I have very little idea as to the going-ons displayed, and it definitely demands a second viewing, but I just loved it so much. There are so many extraordinary scenes and witty dialogues. Fascinating.
4 (he has a lot of 4's). Mubi lists this as a "thriller". It does have a murder plot, although that rests on the level of a hypothesis until late into the movie. I'm positively gaga about the witty dialogue, whose dominance means this is one of the less visually overwhelming Greenaways (thank god for that). You'll leave this movie with a new army of insults. That makes any movie worth it!