MiniReview: "The Bostonians" (film)

What is it?

A film, based on a novel by Henry James, released in 1984 (the film, that is). 


What is it about?

It’s set in Boston and New York in 1876, and tells the story of a young feminist woman, Verena, caught between her devotion to an older woman, Olive, who wishes her to remain faithful to the female sex, and a dashing Southern gentleman, Basil, who would like to, as Olive says, shut up Verena's mouth with kisses.


John, I thought you said in an earlier review that the novels of Henry James, despite his own homosexuality, are devoid of homosexual content. So why are you reviewing this?

Well, I was wrong, apparently. This film is totally queer.


I’m guessing that Olive Chancellor is a lesbian?

Yes, it’s pretty clear she is (at least in the film), but as was the case with Henry James himself, her sexuality doesn’t seem to extend to full-on sexual intercourse.


It’s all innuendo, then?



Cool. So, did you like this film?

I did! It’s not perfect: it’s very slow, and the ending is a bit drawn out. But it’s beautifully acted all down the line, the story is compelling, and Christopher Reeve is dreamy.


And it’s pretty queer, you said?

Oh yeah. Oddly enough, it reminded me of Tennessee Williams in the way that it presents sexual attraction as a force whose power is simply terrifying. And you just know, watching this, that at the end of the day the stupid but sexy dude is going to win out over the dry but intelligent old maid. Sad, but that’s life.


What rating would you give it (using the Michelin-guide 3-star system)?:

1 star (definitely worth a watch, despite the occasional tedium)

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