This romantic jungle adventure has a languid Magic Realist feel to it. It never quite verges into the supernatural, but even so is a haunting tale reminiscent of Joseph Conrad's "Heart of Darkness," having about it an aura of tragic fatalism that does not quite seem of this world.
Not many will view it as I did as a weird tale, since it is on the surface an eccentric romance that with a little less darkness would've served as a period love story. But in focusing on jungle imagery & the symbolic fragility of the crystal chapel being rafted into the jungle depths, the film becomes wonderfully strange in its atmospherics.
The success of the film hinges primarily on its visual intensity, followed by an amazingly complicated performance by Ralph Fiennes as the attractively neurotic priest Oscar who has been commissioned to deliver the crystal palace up river, & must day in & out hourly confront his phobia about water.
The secondary performances are excellent, in particular the brilliant Cate Blanchette as Lucinda, the Australian heiress & gambler whose wager sets Fiennes' adventure, & his fate, in motion. Since Lucinda & Oscar do not spend much of the film in each others' presence it is not really about their relationship, so Fiennes pretty much has to carry the film on his own, & hooboy does he succeed at it.
copyright © by Paghat the Ratgirl