White Mischief | Chicago Reader

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Michael Radford's follow-up feature to Nineteen Eighty-Four deals with the hedonism and decadence of aristocratic English colonialists in Kenya in 1940, where the opening months of World War II had relatively little impact—specifically, in a place called Happy Valley near Nairobi. Drugs, sexual intrigue, and the murder of the Earl of Erroll (Charles Dance) comprise the main bill of fare. Based on the best-selling book by James Fox, with an all-star cast including Greta Scacchi, Joss Ackland, Sarah Miles, Geraldine Chaplin, Ray McAnally, Murray Head, John Hurt, and Trevor Howard. An exceedingly handsome film—thanks to Roger Deakins's cinematography, and the beauty of both the African settings and Scacchi—but also a fairly empty one whose voyeuristic relationship to the upper-class decadence seems rather two-faced. Although far from boring, this is a serious disappointment for fans of Nineteen Eighty-Four.

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