The Ivory-Merchant team, straight from their treatment of E.M. Forster's Room with a View, have moved on to his posthumous novel about a proper English gentleman who gives in to "the unspeakable vice of the Greeks" (or "Oscar Wilde's disease") while at Cambridge in 1909, loses his initiator to a respectable marriage, and consoles himself with the latter's dark young gamekeeper. There is a certain antiquarian charm, but no longer much satirical punch, in the backwardness of the social climate, and the whole thing plays surprisingly well as a bit of gay nostalgia, recalling a period when homosexuality was furtive and unlawful ("I am empowered to sentence you to imprisonment with flogging"), but when at least there wasn't the specter of AIDS. The upper-classness of it all (the punting on the river, the country gardens, the cricket match) adds much more to the air of escapism than to that of social commentary. There is no escaping, however, the bookishness of the enterprise: dutiful, careful, prettily illustrational, but essentially unimaginative, uncinematic, and dull. With James Wilby, Rupert Graves, Denholm Elliott, and Ben Kingsley (in a very good and very funny but very distracting American accent). (1987) — Duncan Shepherd
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