The poet Randolph Henry Ash (played by Jeremy Northam) is world renowned for his selfless love and adoration for his wife.
His poetry had been herald as the greatest evidence of true love existing. Although with further research into him, the scholars Roland Mitchell (played by Aaron Eckhart) and Maude Bailey (played by Gwyneth Paltrow) we find that there are deeper secrets to the heart than true love can see.
Accidentally, Roland stumbles on some undiscovered poetry of Ash’s and recognizes some inconstancies to whom he addresses. He believes these are love letters written to another woman, the poet Christabel LaMotte (played by Jennifer Ehle) so he goes to the expert on LaMotte, Maude Bailey.
Slowly, as they uncover the secrets of the affair the two shared, Maude and Roland are drawn closer together and experience the love that Ash’s poetry expressed. But the more we have revealed to us, the more we find out horrid secrets that some people would rather remain, as they are… secrets.
The past and present are interspersed as we uncover more and more of the past lives of these lovers. The beauty of the English backdrop accentuates this engrossing story of secrecy and passion. Not only is the historical and romantic England a gorgeous sight, but the modern England as well. The poetry read back and forth is filled with such conviction that it simply intensifies the emotions these characters claim to feel.
Each performance of the lead characters was flawless. Aaron Eckhart, who has disappointed me before, delivers in a role I thought to be beyond him. Gwyneth Paltrow, again, dazzles the audience and once again takes on that accent that some many believe to be real. Although this is only the second performance I’ve seen of Jennifer Ehle, this dwarfs her last performance I saw of her in “Wilde.” And the actor portraying Ash, Jeremy Northam, held himself in a way that his aching love for two women and the pain that tore at him transcends the storyline. I haven’t been let down by Northam yet.
With all this praise, there are, of course, flaws. The ending spirals away from me, what with a midnight grave robbery and all, and several performances from the supporting cast fell short.
The only supporting cast member that deserves any notable mention is Lena Headey, who plays LaMotte’s secret lesbian lover.
The script as well, slowly falls apart at the end, it is just lucky it built up enough over the course of the movie that it can afford to lose a little come the closing. B.
Suggestions with Gwyneth Paltrow: “Royal Tenenbaums,” “Bounce,” “Shallow Hal,” “Great Expectations,” “Hush,” “Perfect Murder,” “Shakespeare in Love,” “Sliding Doors,” “Moonlight and Valentino,” “Seven.”
With Aaron Eckhart: “Erin Brockovich,” “Any Given Sunday,” “Your Friends and Neighbors,” “In the Company of Men.”
With Jeremy Northam: “Gosford Park,” “Happy Texas,” “Ideal Husband,” “Amistad,” “Wuthering Heights.”