Saturday 6 January 2024

Movie Review: Barry Lyndon (1975)

Genre: Drama  
Director: Stanley Kubrick  
Starring: Ryan O'Neal, Marisa Berenson, Patrick Magee  
Running Time: 185 minutes  

Synopsis: In rural Ireland of the 1750s, young and penniless Redmond Barry (Ryan O'Neal) falls hopelessly in love with his cousin Nora Brady (Gay Hamilton). But she is eventually more interested in dashing English Captain John Quin (Leonard Rossiter), and the resulting conflict forces Barry to leave his hometown. His subsequent adventures across Europe include stints in the military, a spy assignment, and a gambling partnership with Chevalier de Balibari (Patrick Magee). A more mature Barry then decides to marry into money, and sets his sights on the wealthy Lady Lyndon (Marisa Berenson), wife of an ailing diplomat (Frank Middlemass) and mother to an infant son.

What Works Well: Director Stanley Kubrick and cinematographer John Alcott deliver a visual masterpiece, every scene constructed to evoke 18th century classic European art. Candles are often the only source of light, while thoughtful camera movements gradually reveal delightful compositions. The three hours breeze by thanks to an abundance of lush dramatic content, Kubrick adapting William Makepeace Thackeray's book with a twinkle in the eye (assisted by sly Michael Hordern narration). A game Ryan O'Neal rides the ups and downs of Redmond Barry's colourful life accompanied by a marvelous selection of classical music, including multiple variations of Handel's Sarabande. The overarching theme of overreach as a pathway to ruin plays out repeatedly in Barry's life, with ever more impressive consequences.

What Does Not Work As Well: As a quibble, it's unclear why the two seminal pistol duels are conducted with different rules.

Conclusion: An exquisitely crafted, grand, and ambitious landscape of cinematic beauty.

All Ace Black Movie Blog reviews are here.

No comments:

Post a Comment

We welcome reader comments about this post.