Paris, 1846; decadence and corruption among the aristocracy. Oft spurned in love, Bette (Lange) attempts to live at a remove from the romantic duplicity and boorishness of her cousins the Hulots and their world, especially after she takes under her wing a penurious but ravishing artist, Wenceslas (Young). Alas, once back on his feet Wenceslas forms a clandestine liaison with young Hortense Hulot (MacDonald), and Bette resolves to wreak revenge, by exploiting the various involved parties' sexual, financial and professional weaknesses with Machiavellian ease. So what's new? This Balzac adaptation steers a cheerfully populist course through the familiar romantic intrigue, with the tone firmly one of bawdy sarcasm. The assorted cast mostly play along with this, and once in a while the farce hits a right note. Mostly, though, McAnuff renders the whole show flat, simple and thumpingly obvious, fluffs much of the comedy, and over-eggs it with camera gimmicks.
Cast and crew
Lynn Siefert, Susan Tarr