For most of human history, women have been kept in two distinct boxes: the innocent and the schemer. It is only in recent years that we have been “allowed” to become fully formed human beings, both IRL and in fiction.
The 1999 film, An Ideal Husband, is based on the 1895 play of the same name by Oscar Wilde. Sir Robert Chiltern (Jeremy Northam) has it all: a solid career in politics, a loving wife, Gertrude (Cate Blanchett), and a supportive sister, Mabel (Minnie Driver). Then his world turns upside down.
Mrs. Chevely (Julianne Moore) claims to have evidence of a potential scandal that would figurately kill Sir Robert socially and politically. He turns to his friend Lord Goring (Rupert Everett) for help. Goring is unmarried and has a certain reputation, which does not please his father. He agrees to help, knowing full well what Mrs. Chevely is capable of.
The upside of this film is that the cast is at the top of their game. The downside is that even with Wilde’s unique writing and comedic style, it cannot overcome the sexist drawing of the main female characters. Granted, it was conceived of and premiered in the late 19th century. However, there are other male writers of that period that gave the women they created more room to breathe and not be constricted to “traditional” female roles.
I was also almost immediately bored, which was another reason I turned it off.
Do I recommend it? No.