Leave All Fair | Chicago Reader

Leave All Fair

John Reid's New Zealand production comes on like a parody of the stiff literary dramas, filled with cultured allusions, pale romance, and period costumes, that have for so long been a staple of the British cinema, yet it's clear from the breathy, reverent tone that no one's kidding. John Gielgud plays the elderly John Middleton Murray, taking the opportunity of a visit to France to fret over the injustices done to his late wife, the writer Katherine Mansfield, when a trick of fate puts him in the company of a young lady who—can it be true?—is a dead ringer for the dead woman (in a novel twist of casting, both are played by the same actress, Jane Birkin). The actors strike poses in a variety of handsome interiors and pastel-toned landscapes as Reid dawdles over the tiniest, least original paradoxes of his pathetically derivative screenplay; if the picture moved any more slowly, Streets and Sanitation would come and tow it away.

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