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September 2, 2019

Tulip Fever (2017) --- “With Great Passion Comes Great Risk: Obsession, Desire, Betrayal, And More.”

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Hello, Movie Buffs! 
     Directed by Justin Chadwick (The Other Boleyn Girl) and written by Deborah Moggach (Pride & Prejudice; Best Exotic Marigold Hotel) and Tom Stoppard (Shakespeare in Love; Anna Karenina), Tulip Fever is a 2017 film based on the 1999 novel by Deborah Moggach (The Ex-Wives; Best Exotic Marigold Hotel). Set in Amsterdam during the Tulipmania period of the Dutch Golden Age, the story follows Sophia (Alicia Vikander), a young woman who was leaves the orphanage after coming of age to marry Cornelis Sandvoort (Christoph Waltz), a wealthy and much older businessman. Sophia and Cornelis have a relatively happy marriage despite not conceiving an heir due to Cornelis’ older age. She is a dutiful wife and he is a loving a respectful husband. In order to immortalize his wife's beauty and to stir admiration of his good fortune – in business and in marriage, Cornelis hires a young and handsome artist, Jan van Loos (Dane DeHaan), to paint a portrait of the couple. But overtime Jan becomes obsessed by Sophia's beauty and the pair ultimately fall in love and beginning a secret yet passionate affair. Knowing that they can’t hide their relationship forever, the two make plans to run away together, so Jan gets involved in the blossoming tulip market as a way to finance their future. With the help of new and old friends can these star-crossed lovers find they're happily ever after together? Or will they forever be apart?

     In the opening sequence we learn that In November of 1636, during the Dutch Golden Age, the price of both present and future tulip bulbs rose dramatically and were being bought for 10x their worth. The most expensive of them all was the "breaker" an extremely rare a white tulip with a mutant crimson stripe, and this little flower could make or break a person’s fortune. However, in February 1637 the bottom fell out and the market crashed, changing the lives of hundreds and thousands of families. Within a few precious few months fortunes were made and lost, with present and future tulip bulbs being purchased for 10x their worth. After the crash, some became rich and stayed rich if they wisely quit while they were ahead. While others were not so fortunate and lost everything, forcing their families to pay the price of their greed.
     Although this may seem like an odd backdrop of a historical romance, Tulip Fever (2017) is much more than a fictionalized version of a historic financial collapse. It is a drama that focuses more on creating a love story that is historic, dramatic, romantic, a little mysterious and a little humorous. This is director Chadwick's film debut and it is like a 17th Century Dutch painting — a historic social setting, in its lighting and in its themes.
      As the storyline unfolds, it becomes clear that the themes are so obviously painted into the film as if it were a painting to be admired. There are themes like the love of beauty, the temptation of greed and vanity, a reverence for nature, and the reminder of man’s mortality. The historic paintings by the Dutch are a blend of Amsterdam’s industry and sublime snapshots of beautiful human facades that are veiled in layers of human emotion. In Tulip Fever, vanity is the film’s primary theme. Out of vanity, Cornelis buys Sophia as if she were a precious jar of perfume, commissions a painting to preserve her beauty, and hungers for a male heir. And yet his love for her is what promotes him to keep her and charge the doctor to save her over any child. However, Cornelis plans backfire and because of his vanity, Jan and Sophia fall in love. But in retrospect, out of greed Jan and Sophia are forever star-crossed lovers. This may be a time-period film but that does not mean it does not reflect on today’s reality. Why else do we revisit the past, if only so that we can understand our now. No matter what century, there are always going to be current money trends that will tempt the greedy and the ambitious to get rich quick.
     The visuals are stunning, the sets are realistic, and the costumes are colorful. The cinematography by Eigil Bryld (Ocean’s 8), costumes by Michael O’Connor (Jane Eyre), and set designs by Rebecca Alleway (Murder on the Orient Express) & Simon Elliott (The Book Thief) gives a sense of the beauty that was 17th century Amsterdam. The music score by Danny Elfman (The Girl on the Train) brings the visuals and story to a whole to level.
     The cast is filled with superb actors and actresses. Like Alicia Vikander (Tomb Raider), Christoph Waltz (Alita: Battle Angel), Dane DeHaan (A Cure for Wellness), Jack O’Connell (Unbroken), Holliday Grainger (Cinderella and The Finest Hours), Zach Galifianakis (A Wrinkle in Time), Tom Hollander (Bohemian Rhapsody), and Judi Dench (Murder on the Orient Express). They each give wonderful performances and their chemistry together is great.

    Overall, Tulip Fever (2017) is vibrant, historical, romantic, dramatic, mysterious, and entertaining film about two star-crossed lovers in 17th century Amsterdam during the Tulip-mania period. The story is incredible with multiple themes running through it, the visuals are stunning to behold, while the music helps elevate the two throughout the film. The cast gives wonderful performances and their chemistry and dialogue are great. I highly recommend this film to those who enjoy period pieces or star-crossed stories like Romeo & Juliet.

"Stories don't end. They only go their separate ways. We take leave of them. Not knowing what comes after."
- Maria [narrating]

Final Vote
Worth Seeing:  8 of 10 star
Worth Buying:  8 of 10 stars

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