Yay! Something with Alicia Vikander!
TULIP FEVER is based on a novel by the same name. It looks like it’s about a young woman who is practically bought into a marriage with an older, wealthier man who seems to love how beautiful and young she is, as opposed to loving her for her. Eventually, there’s this craze over a particular tulip that everyone wants, that I can only assume this rich old dude gets, and a young and talented artist is hired to make a painting. However, the artist and the young woman fall in love and so begins some Jerry Springer shit. It looks… meh. The aesthetic itself is pretty gorgeous, as well as the costumes, but it looks like it’s going to get needlessly complicated. I have no real evidence to show for it, but these period dramas are always about power and status, and I feel like I’ve seen enough of those. But hey, Alicia Vikander!
Here’s the cast. Did I mention this movie stars Alicia Vikander? She’s known for THE LIGHT BETWEEN OCEANS (2016), EX-MACHINA (2015), BURNT (2015), and the upcoming TOMB RAIDER (2018). Also starring, we have Dane DeHaan (VALERIAN , A CURE FOR WELLNESS , and THE AMAZING SPIDER-MAN 2 ) and Christoph Waltz (THE LEGEND OF TARZAN , SPECTRE , THE GREEN HORNET , and the upcoming ALITA: BATTLE ANGEL ). In support, we have Judi Dench (MISS PEREGRINE’S HOME FOR PECULIAR CHILDREN , CASINO ROYALE , SHAKESPEARE IN LOVE , and upcoming films VICTORIA & ABDUL  and MURDER ON THE ORIENT EXPRESS ), Cara Delevingne (VALERIAN, SUICIDE SQUAD , and PAPER TOWNS ), Zack Galifianakis (LEGO BATMAN , KEEPING UP WITH THE JONESES , and THE CAMPAIGN ), Holliday Grainger (MY COUSIN RACHEL , THE FINEST HOURS , and CINDERELLA ), and Tom Hollander (THE PROMISE , MISSION: IMPOSSIBLE – ROGUE NATION , PIRATES OF THE CARIBBEAN: DEAD MAN’S CHEST , and upcoming films BREATHE  and MOWGLI ).
Now for the crew. Directing, we have Justin Chadwick, known for THE OTHER BOLEYN GIRL (2008). Co-writing the script is Tom Stoppard (ANNA KARENINA , SHAKESPEARE IN LOVE, EMPIRE OF THE SUN , and the upcoming A CHRISTMAS CAROL, no release date announced) and author of the novel itself, Deborah Moggach (PRIDE & PREJUDICE ). Composing the score is *double take* Danny Elfman?! Did I ever write this down in my previous reviews?! Anywho, Elfman is known for FIFTY SHADES DARKER (2017), ALICE THROUGH THE LOOKING GLASS (2016), HELLBOY II: THE GOLDEN ARMY (2008), and upcoming films JUSTICE LEAGUE (2017) and FIFTY SHADES FREED (2018). Finally, the cinematographer is Eigil Bryld, known for IN BRUGES (2008) and the upcoming OCEAN’S 8 (2018).
Overall, yeah, I probably won’t care much about the movie itself. I just want Vikander to melt my heart. And maybe stab someone in some kind of climactic fight scene. I don’t know, I don’t care. Alicia Vikander! No, I don’t have a huge crush on Alicia Vikander! YOU have a crush on Alicia Vikander! Leave me alone!
This is my honest opinion of: TULIP FEVER
Set in Amsterdam, circa 1634 during the tulip mania. Sophia (Alicia Vikander) is bought from her orphanage into a marriage with the wealthy Cornelis Sandvoort (Christoph Waltz), and is basically tasked with birthing a child, with no results. Eventually, Cornelis commissions a young painter named Jan Van Loos (Dane DeHaan) who quickly falls in love with Sophia, and falls for him in turn, and they start to have an affair.
Oh man. With the vast amounts of reviews that I’ve been belting out recently, I’m surprised I made it this far with knowing what to say. No joke, I have to look at my notes to even remember how I felt about this movie. Er… probably not a good sign.
Ah ha, upon reviewing my said notes, that’s probably one of the reasons why I didn’t connect with this movie as well as I’d hoped. It’s a slow churn. The opening of this movie is a history lesson about the tulip mania, which isn’t bad in itself. It’s a little slice of history that I can imagine is overlooked in standard history books. But then once the actual story, you know, the characters and their problems, the whole tulip mania thing feels either like an afterthought, or a second story that doesn’t connect well with the actual story.
It also doesn’t help that between Sophia’s purchase as Cornelis’ wife, nothing really happens for a good twenty minutes. It’s mostly a bunch of him pissing into a bucket in the corner, calling his dick “his little soldier,” and him unable to properly climax when having sex with her. Granted, there’s some fair character connections between Sophia and Maria (Holliday Grainger), whom is only treated like a servant by Cornelis, rather than Sophia who treats her like a friend.
Speaking of which, this is another problem I have with the film. Increasingly over the last few years, I’ve had a huge problem with narrators. They’re utilized grossly incorrectly by explaining things that explain themselves in the visuals. It was fine when it was explaining the tulip mania, but outside of that, the narrator, an older Maria, never shuts the hell up after that. She’s explaining everything that doesn’t need explanation. We can read the expressions of the characters and perfectly understand their motivations just fine, thank you very much. So the movie does sadly talk down to the audience, thinking we’re too stupid to interpret the characters accurately ourselves. I think at some point the narration stops, or decreases in appearance, but in the end, it takes way too long for it to get there. And why is it important for Maria to be narrating the story?! If the movie is technically in her perspective, how does she know the details of Sophia and Jan’s affair? Or even Jan’s later activities? None of this really adds up.
The movie isn’t all bad, mind you. There does feel like there’s stakes in the beginning. We learn that because Cornelis and Sophia have been trying to conceive for awhile and he’s giving her six more months to get knocked up before he sends her back to the orphanage. Also, the art department needs a damn Oscar nom because these sets are absolutely breath-taking. Of course, Vikander and Waltz are both wonderful, DeHaan isn’t bad, Grainger is certainly a show-stealer, the performances are all around very good, which does occasionally distract from the plot points that get forced.
For example, the whole story is basically Sophia having an affair on Cornelis with Jan, but their relationship is so sudden. Quite literally, Sophia walks downstairs in a pretty blue dress and WHAMO! he’s in love. But fine, a dude’s pants get a little tighter when he sees a hot chick, that’s nothing new, men are pigs, I get that. But what’s her excuse? The sudden romantic exchange is so sudden that they never have time time to actually develop feelings beyond the superficial. Thankfully, the two have some pretty good chemistry the rest of the movie, but the launching point is too lame for my taste.
And let’s talk about the remainder of this movie. So the rest of the plot is basically this: Maria had an affair with a local fish peddler. He suddenly left thinking the cloaked woman making out with Jan was Maria, when in fact it was Sophia. Maria ended up getting pregnant, which would mean a great disgrace to her and probably lose her job. But Sophia hatches an idea: make it seem like it’s Sophia that’s pregnant with Cornelis’ child, make her look pregnant for as long as Maria is pregnant, and when she gives birth, pass off the child as Sophia’s, fake her own death so she can be with Jan, and Maria will be free to raise her own child at no risk to her employment.
This plan should be destined to fail, but it works almost perfectly by the end of the movie, which is… just, no. First off, faking Sophia’s pregnancy isn’t too hard, but how would hiding Maria’s pregnancy work? She shows! Her pregnancy is obvious! This plan should have been a bust eventually, but somehow that hasn’t been the case. Second, I take it back, faking Sophia’s pregnancy should be hard too because married couples have sex when the woman’s pregnant all the time! You can’t convince me that a Lord like Cornelis would just accept her rules of both not sleeping with her and not even being able to touch her pregnant belly. At some point within the nine months of Maria’s pregnancy, he would have to have seen Sophia’s flesh at some point, simply from demand. He even remarks during the birthing scene that she refused his touch for several months. RED FLAGS, YOU DUMB ASS!!! Hell, these are the only two reasons that come to mind. I’m sure there’s a shit load of others too.
But wait, it only gets worse. When the Maria’s baby-daddy returns to confront her and discovers the truth of what he saw, Cornelis overhears her conversation with him and realizes the truth of everything as well, the affair, the pregnancy plot, everything, he leaves a note for Maria in daze. You want to know what that note said? “I forgive you, I’m leaving Amsterdam, I give you all of my riches, good luck.” Yeah, so he found out his wife’s baby wasn’t really theirs, she had an affair with the painter, all for the better part of a year… and he forgives them and leaves them everything…
Moral of the story, y’all, lie to and cheat on your rich husbands and he’ll leave his entire wealth to your B.F.F.!!! Don’t act like it never happened to you!
Overall, I can’t claim this to be a good movie. The characters themselves are fine and pretty likable, hence the acting is good, and the costumes and set designs are amazing to say the least. So it’s, at best, a pretty film to look at. But the character’s choices and story’s logic are such nonsense that you’d swear this script was a first draft and the filmmakers just rolled with it. While I certainly don’t hate the film, I honestly can’t recommend it in theaters. I might recommend it as a rental, but viewer beware.
My honest rating for TULIP FEVER: a weak 3/5