Despite a mostly good cast, Tulip Fever proves a punishingly dull film – not even self-isolation should drive you to this one
“Amsterdam was captivated by a flower”
The signs weren’t good. Tulip Fever was filmed in 2014 but was pushed and pulled around the schedules before it finally surfaced in 2017, notorious producer Harvey Weinstein clearly hoping that some post-production magic would win over reluctant test audiences. Safe to say though, such an amount of chopping and changing does no-one any favours as Justin Chadwick’s film remains punishingly dull.
Based on Deborah Moggach’s book, with screenplay by Moggach and Tom Stoppard, the story (mainly) centres on Sophia, an orphan whisked out of convent life by a wealthy merchant who wants her essentially as a brood mare, But things ain’t clicking in the bedroom, so Sophia tumbles into an affair with the artist her husband has commissioned to do their portrait. And competing for screentime, tulip mania has hit the Netherlands.
Even before the muddled narratives kick in, the film is crippled by Alicia Vikander and Dane DeHaan’s crucial lack of any chemistry, the latter in particular demonstrating no screen presence. Holliday Grainger (as Sophia’s maid) and Jack O’Connell are far sexier as their contrasting relationship is thrown into the mix too and when she falls pregnant, plots thicken and insanity ensues. Oh, and scenes of mad tulip prospecting pop up at regular intervals. And Dame Judi is excellent as a rocking mother abbess.
Perhaps predictably, there’s nothing authentically Dutch about the movie and though it is attactive to the eye, it is just so unengaging as it fails to decide of its story strands it really wants to explore. That said, there’s more than enough familiar faces in here to catch the attention though, maybe for a drinking game… Alexandra GIlbreath’s good egg, Patsy Ferran’s maid, David Harewood in a big hat, Kevin McKidd in another big hat, Joanna Scanlan and Anastasia Hille in giant ruffs, Johnny bloody Vegas but sadly enough it’s not enough for me to even begin recommending this to you.