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In this elegant, stylish, and ultimately boring adaptation of the James novel, Reeve and Redgrave are introduced in the middle of a conversation. On the surface Redgrave is intense and humorless, her only passion political. Reeves is a charming sophisticate with a streak of stifled anger
beneath his veneer. The two have met because of Potter, a sweet, talented, and attractive woman with a gift for public speaking. Redgrave's talents do not lie in that direction, but she feels that Potter's ability could help further the cause to which she is totally committed: female suffrage. At
the same time, Reeve's feelings about Potter lie in another direction. So the triangle is put into position--a man and a woman vying for the same woman. This geometric design forms the focus of the leisurely, well-shot film. Reeve and Redgrave give good performances as the antagonists. The
transition from novel to screenplay was, as usual, well handled by writer Jhabvala, but hewing to James's style means that Ivory's direction makes this a tedious movie to watch--preferably on cassette, late at night, when one is suffering from insomnia. Redgrave received an Oscar nomination for
Best Actress, but lost to Sally Fields for PLACES IN THE HEART. Costume designers Beavan and Bright were also nominated.