Grave, painterly, and bitterly satirical, BARRY LYNDON baffled viewers who expected picaresque breeziness along the lines of TOM JONES. Kubrick's translation of the Thackeray novel downplays its frivolity and foregrounds its acerbic social critique. With an actor only slightly more
expressive than Ryan O'Neal in the lead, this sombre costume epic might have reached the level of tragedy; as it is, the film is langorous to a fault, but so visually delightful and keenly observed that its excesses demand forgiveness.
The title character (Ryan O'Neal) is a rustic Irish boy who falls in love with a local lass (Gay Hamilton). When he threatens to disrupt her financial...