In 17th Century Amsterdam, an orphaned girl Sophia (Alicia Vikander) is forcibly married to a rich and powerful merchant Cornelis Sandvoort (Christoph Waltz) - an unhappy "arrangement" that saves her from poverty. After her husband commissions a portrait, she begins a passionate affair with the painter Jan Van Loos (Dane DeHaan), a struggling young artist. Seeking to escape the merchant's ever-reaching grasp, the lovers risk everything and enter the frenzied tulip bulb market, with the hope that the right bulb will make a fortune and buy their freedom. Written by
Here is only one review of the 2014-version. Based on that review, it is fair to say that some of the plot holes have obviously been stuffed, while others are still wide open (or have been opened). I don't know if the holes have been faithfully adapted from the book or if they were specifically designed for the film.
In the 16th century there was a big economic bubble based on tulip onions. This is the background for a romance between a painter and a married woman. They make out a plan to get rich fast, so that they can run away to the East Indies. So far, so good. The point is now that the two strings never really are woven properly together. The development of the plot is, at best, sketchy. Character development, if any, is rather rhapsodical. The lovers (Vikander and DeHaan) are not really likable. The script gives them zero personality and they compensate by overacting. The only person carrying a bit of sympathy is the cheated husband (Waltz). On the other hand the makers strive to give us impressions of street life then, raw, loud and rather vulgar it is in their view. The final twist of the plot is surprising, but not convincing.
There are further things that were rather annoying in this film: The use of a narrator. It seemed that the makers didn't trust the force of their pictures and thought they had to spell it out for more distracted viewers. Shaky camera and fast clipping. I think it is a misconception to edit a costume drama to fit the taste of the MTV generation. (Make it more like The Girl with a Pearl Earring!)
One reason for historical fiction is to make us understand the burst of the recent economic bubble on the basis of a historical example. The makers of this film didn't really succeed in doing that. The persons in this film are far away and two-dimensional like drawings on a wall. Unless you write a review about them, you have already forgotten them tomorrow.
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