Office Christmas Party
Another reminder that allowing your cast to madly improvise instead of actually providing a coherent script with a scintilla of inherent logic often leads to…
Michael Hoffman's "Restoration" plunges us into the heart of 17th century England, and the court of Charles II, who followed the austere Cromwell years with a riotous time of sensual excess. The film has many virtues, but for me the most enchanting is simply the lust with which it depicts a bold and colorful era in history.
Never before in the movies have I seen such a riotous depiction of period London: The overwhelming excess of the royal court, the teeming traffic on the Thames, the bridges groaning with buildings and people, the streets jammed with life and lowlife, the delight in all the pleasures of the flesh - and then, like two grim wake-up calls, the Black Plague and the Great Fire. It is remarkable that this movie, which re-creates a world, cost only about $18 million, and never seems to cut a corner; credit goes to production designer Eugenio Zanetti and costumer James Acheson.
Then there is the story itself: sometimes as rambunctious as "Tom Jones," sometimes morbid and dour. The movie stars Robert Downey Jr. in a remarkable performance as Robert Merivel, a serious young physician, who, in an opening scene, is seen solemnly palpitating the exposed heart of a patient who sits proudly (cheerfully, even) in an operating theater. Merivel is summoned away from his studies by the king (Sam Neill), and his first entry into the Stuart court is an astonishing progression through ornate decoration and the heedless display of excess.
The king is morose. His beloved Lulu is dying. Lulu, Merivel eventually discovers, is a spaniel. The young doctor cures the dog, more by luck than by skill, and is appointed on the spot as physician to the king's dogs. He accepts, although it means abandoning his serious medical studies and the respect of his best friend, a Quaker named John Pearce (David Thewlis).