Tulip Fever has the best thing period dramas can have (an excellent score) and the worse (the most boring soap opera kind of story imaginable).
In 17th century Netherlands, a poor young girl named Sophia (Alicia Vikander) finds herself becoming the betrothed to a peppercorn governor named Cornelis (Christoph Waltz). Someone who is a widow, and seems like a gentle man. However, his lack of youth and vigor makes him a lovely husband but not someone Sophia necessarily is in love with. Making the entrance of Jan Van Loos (Dane DeHaan) into her life dangerous. For the passion is instant and hard to control. Leading to the house keeper Maria (Holliday Grainger) learning of the affair. Something which comes of use after she gets pregnant by William (Jack O’Connell) and needs to blackmail her mistress to keep her job.
For Those Who Love The Classic Music Usually Paired With Period Dramas, You’ll Love This Film
One of the main things I love about nearly all period dramas is the score. The music is so relaxing and beautiful to the point, for duller pictures, you could be lulled off to sleep. Luckily, this film isn’t that boring.
But… It Leaves You So Indifferent
However, I cannot say you’ll necessarily care about anything or anyone. DeHaan and Vikander are your classic, “Here are two attractive people put together” vs two people with chemistry. Making it where you don’t want to forgive her for not only cheating on her husband but the extent she goes through to get away from him. On top of that, Waltz may tone down his eccentricities, but he is still charming and Cornelis isn’t made into an ass.
Yet, at the same time, you don’t necessarily feel bad for him. You get he is a nice guy put in an awful situation, which includes being tricked to think his maid’s child is his own, but nothing about him leads to pity. If only because there seems to be an effort to make it so no one can be the villain. At least of the main cast. So as much as, on paper, you think Sophia and Jan should be touted as terrible young people, there is this sorry attempt at trying to excuse that with them being young and in love.
And while we could talk about the whole tulip mania aspect of the story, believe me when I say it is not worth it. It makes for a decent back story but like the different relationships in the film, it leaves you not giving a single damn.
Reminding me, William and Maria’s relationship, while a bit more believable and cute than Sophia and Jan’s, does not act as a silver lining. If only because they have some eye roll inducing drama in their storyline which ruins their momentum. Much less, how things end for them, and everyone in general, really pushes the idea that there was some desire to make a feel good ending here – despite all that happens.
On The Fence
It has Its Funny Moments
There are little quips here and there which may cause a giggle or two. I believe Gerrit (Zach Galifianakis) might be the main one who may grant this movie some sort of reprieve. However, it is through him playing the village drunk. So, if you have built a tolerance for Galifianakis’ style of comedy, or aren’t the biggest fan of him, this may not add any value to the film for you.
Overall: Negative (Skip It)
I really wanted to like Tulip Fever. However, it makes it far too difficult to get into. There isn’t a clear villain in this besides a patriarchal system. Outside of that, you can see there is some attempt at just showing a bunch of people doing what it takes to survive, maybe even try to do more than simply that, but none of the people who are focused on really craft a reason for you to give a damn.
Hence the negative label. For despite the accolades some of these actors have, despite whatever makes Dane DeHaan and Cara Delevingne keep getting cast in movies, there is no strong selling point here. Not to say I understand why they pushed this movie back as often, and far, as they did, but I do really think unless you love period dramas, Tulip Fever will not be an experience worth the admission price.