Garden of Eden

The novelist, Ernest Hemingway, died in 1961.  So the fact that he had a book published in 1986 called, “The Garden of Eden” is pretty impressive.  The book, and the movie on which it is based, tells the story of a David (Jack Huston) and Catherine (Mena Suvari) who after a 6-week whirlwind romance get married shortly after World War I and spend their honeymoon traveling to places like Madrid and Cannes and along the way meet a young woman, Marita (Caterina Murino) with whom they BOTH fall in love with.

The movie explores many things, including gender roles.  Catherine is an eccentric and often likes to think of herself as the man in her relationship with David.  She is the one who picks up Marita, instructs David to kiss her and then makes David get the same hair dye job that she gets.  She also fancies herself to be a bit evil and David often calls her “devil”, but says it with affection.  “How are you feeling, Devil?” David will ask.  “Devilish” Catherine would reply with a large grin on her face.

One of the most interesting aspects of this movie is that it feels like you are watching a stage play.  In the theater the actors have to project themselves in a certain way.  They project themselves in a much larger capacity because they know there are people sitting in the back who have to see and hear what they are doing.  Also there is a lot of quick banter between the characters without the benefits of quick cuts between the two which also helped make it feel like a play.  It was a very interesting choice, if it was a conscious one, director John Irvin decided to take.

There is also a great deal of sex in this movie.  The movie “Blue Valentine” recently had its NC-17 rating overturned to an R. After seeing this movie it is curious why it did not receive an NC-17 rating since the sexual content was more intense. 

This is one of those “take it or leave it” type of movies.  Period pieces are not everyone’s cup of tea.  The beautiful locations and the relationships between the characters will probably attract a more mature audience’s interest more than others.  The movie is an hour and a half, but it still feels like it is dragging on in certain areas of the movie.  The movie was made a couple of years ago and is only now getting US distribution, so that could tell you something too.  We are in the middle of the holiday movie season and there are plenty of choices out there, “Garden of Eden” gives an addition choice for those who like a little something different in their movies.