One of my favorite classic novels, Evelyn Waugh's Brideshead Revisited, is coming your way in a new adaptation starring what looks to be a perfectly suited cast. Matthew Goode, (Match Point, The Lookout) stars as Charles Ryder, the tale's protagonist and narrator, who befriends the wealthy Sebastian Flyte (Ben Whishaw). When Sebastian brings Charles for a visit to his family's estate, Brideshead Castle, Charles meets Sebastian's sister, Lady Julia Flyte (Hayley Atwell, Cassandra's Dream).
Emma Thompson plays Lady Marchmain, Sebastian and Julia's aristocratic mother, a Roman Catholic for whom her husband, Lord Marchmain, converted his faith from Anglican; in the book, at least, Catholicism is an influence on both the lives and conversations of the characters, especially Lady Marchmain, who uses the duel thumbscrews of guilt and manipulation to control others ... this is a character Thompson can really sink her teeth into, and I look forward to seeing her take on the role.
Supposedly, this adaptation, directed by Julian Jarrold (Becoming Jane) will focus mostly on the romance between Charles and Julia, though I hope that screenwriters Andrew Davies and Jeremy Brock don't neglect the comedic scenes between Charles and his father, which are among the funniest in the book. I'm very much looking forward to seeing this film.
I very much enjoyed Goode's performance in Match Point, and liked him even better in The Lookout; when I interviewed him for that film, I found him to be smart and funny, with a rapier wit -- exactly the sort of personality one would hope for in an actor playing Charles Ryder. Whisham, of course, played the eerie serial killer in Tom Tykwer's adaptation of Perfume: A Story of a Murderer, and his performance in that film, which required him to convey a complex character with minimal dialogue, convinced me that Whisham is one of the most talented young actors working today.
What I've seen of the costumes and sets looks fantastic, and with a cast like this, I'm hopeful this will be an excellent take on Waugh's novel. Waugh wrote the book between December, 1944 and June 1945 -- a time when England was at war and luxuries were hard to come by; the book reflects an earlier period of decadence between the wars, using Ryder's point of view to examine the excesses of the aristocracy. Historically, it's a fascinating book, but I love it because it's filled with wit and humor wrapped around colorful, interesting characters; here's hoping this adaptation is worthy of the book.
Brideshead Revisited will open in limited release on July 25, with a wider release to follow August 1 and 8.