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Shadowlands

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All-Reviews.com Movie Review: Shadowlands

Starring: Anthony Hopkins, Debra Winger
Director: Richard Attenborough
Rated: PG
RunTime: 133 Minutes
Release Date: January 1994
Genres: Drama, Romance


*Also starring: Edward Hardwicke, John Wood, Michael Denison, Joseph Mazzello, Robert Flemyng, Peter Howell, Peter Firth



Review by Steve Rhodes
3½ stars out of 4

SHADOWLANDS is story of the famous English writer C. S. Lewis (Anthony Hopkins) and of the one true love in his life, Joy Gresham (Debra Winger). Joy is a life long fan of Lewis's and ventures to Oxford where he teaches so that she can see the great man in the flesh. His Oxford colleagues, on the other hand, see him as just another professor and don't view him in awe as Gresham does.

Lewis and Gresham at first trade barbs at each other when they meet, but eventually they fall into a deep, respectful and contemplative love for each other. They become inseparable which is surprising since they are both independent sorts who appear to need no other human being. Eventually, Gresham becomes seriously ill and the movie becomes a TERMS OF ENDEARMENT II.

There are so many things special about this movie it is hard to know where to begin so let me take a little bit different approach and list them in order with the best first:

SCRIPT Many lines poignant, funny, or both. Wish I could have written all them down. In one example, Winger describes Hopkins and her as "lapsed atheists". It has an excellent ending. The script by William Nicholson deserves to win an Oscar. I believe this was taken from a play. If so, you should get the play and read it. Use your yellow marker to highlight the memorable lines. Make sure your marker has plenty of ink before you start. Finally, not only was the script excellent, the story itself was a fascinating love story.

DIRECTION Richard Attenborough had a clear sense of what he wanted to do. and did it. Very moving.

ACTING Hopkins was absolutely wonderful. Okay, the character had similarities to the one in REMAINS OF THE DAY in how reserved he was, but these were different roles. He deserves an Oscar nomination for SHADOWLANDS.

Winger played a harsh, honest, strong, complex and yet vulnerable character. Her acting range is enormous. Excellent performance also worthy of an Oscar nomination. Actually, the only fault I have with the movie was that Winger had trouble staying with her accent. Oh well, she tried.

There were many great minor roles: The brother played by Edward Hardwicke of Dr. Watson TV fame was one of many. Joy's son Douglas played by Joseph Mazzello was another.

CINEMATOGRAPHY The cinematography by Roger Pratt was beautiful and yet not overdone. Made you want to go to Oxford without overpowering the story and turning it into a travelogue.

SHADOWLANDS runs 2:11, and I think the editor (Lesley Walker) made just the right choices. If it had been shorter, we might have missed some aspect of two intriguing lives. It is rated PG only for the seriousness of its themes. It would be a great show for anyone old enough to contemplate serious illness. I strongly recommend this to you and award it *** 1/2.

Copyright 1995 Steve Rhodes

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