Review / ‘Tulip Fever’ (MA) ***

DEBORAH Moggach usually writes good screenplay. So does Tom Stoppard. They collaborated on “Tulip Fever” which director Justin Chadwick shot in 2014. The result lay on the shelf until released this year after a re-cut.

It’s 1634. In Amsterdam orphan Sophia (Alicia Vikander) hasn’t presented older wealthy husband of three years Cornelis (Christoph Waltz) with an heir. Frankly, Cornelis doesn’t delight her after lights out. But his heart’s in the right place. He engages good-looking, young artist Jan van Loos (Dane DeHaan) to paint a portrait of the couple. Jan’s a stud-muffin to delight any neglected wife.

Amsterdam has a new craze. The tulip has arrived from the east. Everybody wants them in the garden. At the bulb exchange, any hitherto-unknown sport or colour creates a frenzy of bidding to have it. Sophia and Jan decide to play the market with insider information to raise the funds to run away. Neither husband nor lover has yet got Sophia pregnant.

But kitchen maid Maria (Holliday Grainger) is. Fishmonger Willem (Jack O’Connell) got at her before leaving town. What better way to help Sophie to relieve domestic tensions with a babe she can call her own even if it’s not? Which she does, to Cornelis’ delight. Then Willem comes back.

Keeping track of this rowdy, confused babble, ameliorated by occasional visits to Mother Superior (Judi Dench) at the convent from which Sophia came, needs perseverance but no great intellectual power. Indeed, it’s often good fun. And the alleys and old buildings of Norwich play Amsterdam in a manner evocative of the Golden Age of Dutch painting which was also going on at that time.

At Palace Electric


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