Based on a documented tale of true-life madness, this film gets bogged down in a perplexing story and never manages to make it clear why it undertook to tell it in the first place. During the 1930s, British music critic Philip Heseltine (Jeremy Northram) cherishes his newspaper position as guardian of the arts. The John Simon of his day, waspish Heseltine aims the majority of his brickbats at contemporary composer Peter Warlock, even though Heseltine's best friend, pianist Gerald Duffy (Hilton McRae), is a champion of Warlock's modern opuses. Heseltine's romance with American vocalist Lily Buxton (Tuska Bergen) gives Warlock a respite from the constant criticm, but when the gas in Heseltine's flat is turned on undersuspicious circumstances he accuses Warlock. Then Duffy is viciously assaulted; could Warlock be responsible? Lily negons to wonder whether there might be something wrong with beau, but by the time viewers get to the bottom of the Heseltine/Warlock mystery this sumptuously photographed and scored mystery has worn out its welcome. The germ of a fascinating idea is wasted in this lifeless film, despite Northram's energetic indulgence in a variety of facial tics and voices. The trouble is that screenwriters Peter Barnes and Nicholas Meyer never make up their minds about the nature of the story they're telling? Does it want to be a psychological study of out-of-control artistic temperament, or a character study about an artist's thwarted creative drive? Instead of settling on one narrative, the film flutters from one to the other and the movie degenerates into a precious mess.
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- Released: 1999
- Rating: R
- Review: Based on a documented tale of true-life madness, this film gets bogged down in a perplexing story and never manages to make it clear why it undertook to tell it in the first place. During the 1930s, British music critic Philip Heseltine (Jeremy Northram) c… (more)