05/07/2001 at 01:00 AM EDT
Uma Thurman, Nick Nolte, Jeremy Northam, Kate Beckinsale
, Anjelica Huston, James Fox
Two lovers confront each other in the overgrown garden of a ramshackle estate near Rome in 1903. The man, an indigent Italian prince (Northam), has just told Charlotte (Thurman), an American of good birth but no money, that soon he will marry another.
"Please, don't do this," she begs.
"I have no choice," he says. His intended (Beckinsale), a pal of Charlotte's, is the only child of America's first billionaire (Nolte), and her fortune will finance restoration of the prince's castle. Desperate to stay close to her amour, Charlotte in turn weds her friend's courtly father.
Money buys unhappiness for all involved in The Golden Bowl
, director James Ivory's plush film version of Henry James's 1904 novel about love and betrayal. The cast is skillful, particularly Huston as a meddling matron. Thurman is the weak link here, acting mostly by stretching her long neck ever higher, giving her the look of a swan in acute distress. (R)
Bottom Line: Didn't bowl us over