James Ivory and cast make every scene flutter with feeling in this adaptation of Peter Cameron's 2002 novel, written for the screen by Ivory's collaborator of 50 years, Ruth Prawer Jhabvala. Omar (Omar Metwally), an American PhD student, shows up unannounced at a secluded Uruguayan country estate to petition the household of novelist and suicide victim Jules Gund for permission to write the great man's biography, the completion of which would guarantee a professorship (a fate worse than death, it's implied). Omar must impress Gund's stranded 28-year-old mistress, Arden (Charlotte Gainsbourg), his shunned 40-something wife, Caroline (Laura Linney) — loathe to publicize their ménage — and his elder brother, Adam (Anthony Hopkins). These are people who quote Persian poets before dulcet landscapes. But even life among this aristocracy of the sensitive is not without complexities, with everyone trapped in their age-appropriate life crises. Best is Linney, conquering scenes as the acrid and touching Caroline, her regal bitterness a shield against nostalgia, dressed Park Avenue posh to drink alone.
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