This is a film with a world class cast that fails to live up to its promise. It's about the intrigues in the art world in London. (The film was originally meant to be set in New York, but it was relocated to London to save costs).
Alfred Rhinegold (Christopher Lee) is an aged art collector who is facing bankruptcy. He only has one thing of value, a painting by Piet Mondrian valued at £15 million, but he refuses to part with it for sentimental reasons. He bought it from Mondrian personally 50 years ago for £500 cash. His wife Alfreda (Joanna Lumley) conspires with her butler to encourage offers from art collectors to tempt him to sell. In the course of the film the bids rise to £30 million, but he still refuses to sell.
The intrigues aren't just about the art business, they're also sexual. Bob Macclestone (Stellan Skarsgard) and his wife Jean (Gillian Anderson) are happily married, as far as outward appearances go. Bob likes to have sex with younger women, but it's nothing serious. He always goes home to his wife. Jean has always been faithful, but after being seduced by a young artist she decides to get a divorce and move in with him. That was a bad choice. For her it was love, for the artist it was a one-night stand, because he's already having an affair with the art gallery owner Beth Freemantle (Heather Graham).
Bob admires the paintings with his wife.
Paige (Amanda Seyfried) also admires the paintings.
So Bob and Paige go to dinner to talk about what they have in common. He doesn't even suspect his wife wants to leave him.
I haven't even begun to describe all the intrigues in the film. Everyone is involved with everyone else, whether it's business or pleasure.
I would have enjoyed the film more if it had contained more comedy. There are several satirical scenes, especially at the end of the film, but they're all played with deadpan seriousness. Despite featuring several of my favourite actors the film failed to enthral me.
Another problem for me is that I have no understanding for art. I know what I like and what I don't, but I can't put a value on a painting.
This is the Mondrian painting hanging proudly on the wall. I admit that it looks good, and I might pay five pounds for a print, but is it really worth £15 million? Not to me. I wouldn't pay such a large sum even if I were rich enough.
I'd rather look at a beautiful girl. Wouldn't you? That's something I can appreciate.
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