#REVIEW: “TULIP FEVER”
Review by Siobhán Rich for Mr. Will Wong
In 17th century Amsterdam tulip bulbs are worth their weight in gold. The rarest of these gilded flowers is the Breaker whose pure white petals are touched with a single stripe of red. The mania for these beautiful flowers is the backdrop for the period drama Tulip Fever.
Three years after marrying, Cornelis (Christoph Waltz) and Sophia Sandvoort (Alicia Vikander) are still unsuccessful at producing an heir. Unable to find immortality the traditional way, Cornelis decides to hire artist Jan Van Loos (Dane DeHaan) to paint the couple’s portrait. Sophia and Jan are drawn to each other and soon begin an ill-concealed affair. Meanwhile, Sophia’s maid Maria (Holliday Grainger) and her fish monger lover (Jack O’Connell) have been dabbling in the high stakes world of Dutch tulip speculation. Misunderstandings and bad luck lead the two to become separated before Maria can announce her pregnancy. What follows is blackmail, deception, and chicanery worthy of Mr. Bean sketch.
Based on the Novel by Deborah Moggach and co-written with Oscar winner Tom Stoppard, Fever’s convoluted story plods along in predictable fashion: Zach Galifianakis’ Gerrit, for example, does exactly what you’d expect of any character played by Zach Galifianakis. In fact, the only true surprises come in the Film’s final minutes when characters’ futures are flipped on their heads and laid out contrary to previous motivations.
With a cast boasting three Oscar winners including Waltz, Vikander and Judi Dench as the wily Abbess, Tulip should be a slam dunk. Until the Third Act, Director Justin Chadwick masterfully intertwines the storylines of Sophia, Maria and the tulips. It is the intricacies of the latter that truly undoes the story leaving Chadwick and the audience muddled.
Michael O’Connor’s sumptuous costumes steal the show. In keeping with the palette of the Dutch masters, the sets and costumes are heavily steeped in dark hues making the rare bursts of blue and yellow even more remarkable. Vikander’s wardrobe, in particular, charts her character’s course with remarkable visual acuity.
The much-beleaguered story of the making of Tulip Fever has caused more speculation and hysteria than even the 17th century tulip market could bear. Filmed in 2014, the Movie has allegedly been shelved and recut multiple times leading up to its release this weekend. The end result is an enjoyable if disordered dash through Amsterdam for those seeking lighter fare.
eOne Films release Tulip Fever on Friday, September 1, 2017.