[Screen It]


(2002) (Aaron Eckhart, Gwyneth Paltrow) (PG-13)

Blood/Gore Disrespectful/
Bad Attitude
Tense Scenes
Mild Minor Heavy Minor Mild
Mild None Minor None Mild
Smoking Tense Family
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Talk About
Heavy Minor Moderate Moderate Mild

Drama: Two contemporary literary scholars travel in the footsteps of two Victorian poets and end up falling under their own romantic spell while trying to discover what happened to their 19th century counterparts and their secret romance.
Roland Michell (AARON ECKHART) is an American literary scholar working in London as a research assistant for Professor James Blackadder (TOM HICKEY). With it being the centennial celebration of Randolph Henry Ash (JEREMY NORTHAM), the poet laureate for Queen Victoria, Roland is researching the love letters from the reportedly faithful man to his wife Ellen (HOLLY AIRD).

He gets the idea, however, that Ash's letters weren't written to his wife, but instead to fellow Victorian poet Christabel LaMotte (JENNIFER EHLE). Needing more information, Roland goes to visit stuffy British academic Maud Bailey (GWYNETH PALTROW) who's been doing her own research on LaMotte who was a distant relative of hers.

Maud believes that Roland's theory is rubbish, particularly since she knows of Christabel's lesbian lover, Blanche Glover (LENA HEADEY). Nevertheless, she eventually but reluctantly decides to assist him in his literary detective work, and the two end up finding more letters that begin to confirm Roland's theory.

As they continue their work and try to circumvent Maud's former boyfriend, Fergus Wolff (TOBY STEPHENS), from beating them to the punch of getting to the bottom of this potential historical scandal, they begin to develop feelings for each other, much like Ash and LaMotte who we see in various flashbacks that parallel the contemporary story.

Unless they're fans of the source novel, someone in the cast or period romances, it's probably not very likely.
For sexuality and some thematic elements.
  • GWYNETH PALTROW plays a stuffy British literary scholar who's been researching LaMotte's life, reluctantly agrees to assist Roland and his quest, and briefly ends up fooling around with him.
  • AARON ECKHART plays a literary research assistant who's determined to dig up some past dirt on a 19th century poet. Along the way, he fools around with Maud and uses some brief profanity.
  • JEREMY NORTHAM plays a famous and married Victorian era poet who ends up having an affair with Christabel.
  • JENNIFER EHLE plays another 19th century poet who becomes enamored with Ash and eventually leaves her lesbian lover so that she can have an affair with him.
  • TOBY STEPHENS plays Maud's former boyfriend who sets out to beat her and Roland to the punch of uncovering revealing facts about Ash.
  • HOLLY AIRD plays Ash's subservient spouse who doesn't think she's been a good wife to him.
  • LENA HEADEY plays Christabel's lesbian lover who becomes jealous of Christabel's attraction and eventual love affair with Ash.


    Curious if this title is entertaining, any good, and/or has any artistic merit?
    Then read OUR TAKE of this film.

    (Note: The "Our Take" review of this title examines the film's artistic merits and does not take into account any of the possibly objectionable material listed below).

    The following is a quick look at the content found in this romantic drama that's been rated PG-13. Profanity consists of at least 1 "s" word along with a handful of other expletives and colorful phrases. Some sexually related dialogue is present, as is a sexual encounter that shows movement. Other fooling around is also present, and some of that involves a married man having an affair with a woman of the past who was involved in a lesbian relationship.

    Various characters have varying degrees of bad attitudes (including those involved in that affair as well as some grave robbers), some drink, and violence consists of a man punching another man, another character twice holding his gun on intruders, and a woman who commits suicide by drowning herself (the actual death is not seen).

    If you're still concerned about the film and its appropriateness for yourself or anyone else in your home who may be interested in seeing it, we suggest that you take a closer look at our detailed listings for more specific information regarding the film's content.

  • Roland's landlord holds a beer and hands one to him.
  • Ash and various other people at a social gathering have what look like wine.
  • A person sarcastically jokes that Roland is an American and thus is probably trafficking drugs.
  • A man orders some scotch with a little bit of soda in it and Fergus says he'll have the same.
  • Christabel and Ash have wine in front of them.
  • A man has a tiny bit of blood on his face after being punched.
  • A man has an initial elitist attitude toward Fergus who introduces himself to him.
  • Roland steals a draft letter that he discovers in a book in the library and removes it from the premises.
  • Fergus refers to Maud, his on again, off again girlfriend, as a "ball breaker."
  • Ash cheats on his wife by seeing Christabel and she leaves Blanche for him.
  • Christabel's lesbian lover admits to taking Christabel's letters from Ash (and burning them, although we later learn that final act was not true).
  • Roland and Maud steal a mail package that they see is addressed to Fergus.
  • Christabel is mean and disrespectful to a younger woman who offers her help to Christabel (who's upset because she's pregnant).
  • For those who don't like material about mediums and spiritualists, there's a scene where Christabel has invited such a person for a sťance-like gathering of people (nothing scary occurs).
  • Fergus and another man set out to dig up a grave to look for and hopefully retrieve documents they believe are buried there.
  • We see a woman walking out into a lake (with rocks sewn into her dress) to drown herself (she succeeds, but we don't see the final act).
  • Rifle: Held by an older man on several people in several scenes.
  • Phrases: "Ball breaker," "What the hell are you doing?" and "Jeez."
  • We hear that a woman drowned herself in despair (by sewing rocks into her dress and then walking out into a lake).
  • None.
  • A tiny bit of such music plays in the film.
  • None.
  • At least 1 "s" word, 1 ass (used with "hole"), 1 damn, 1 hell, 3 uses each of "God" and "Jesus," 2 of "Oh my God," and 1 use each of "For God's sake," "Good God," "My God" and "Oh God" as exclamations.
  • Roland tells a solicitor that he's "off" women (meaning taking a break) and the solicitor says that's no reason to be off women (possible double entendre). Roland then asks him how much his services will cost. That man mistakes Roland's inquiry to be about a woman who's there with him (and says that she's just a friend).
  • Some classic statues in a museum show bare butts and a later one shows male full frontal nudity.
  • Fergus jokes with Roland saying that American's say, "How's it hanging?" Roland says that they just say "hey," "Unless you're gay."
  • Maud informs Roland that LaMotte was a lesbian (causing him to say, "Don't get me wrong, I love lesbians"), but then adds that unfortunately they didn't have video cameras in those days, so he's out of luck.
  • Christabel shows a little cleavage.
  • Ash asks Christabel if she wants them to be lodged separately after they've run off together for a several-week getaway. She replies that she wants to be with him. Later, and in their quarters, he starts to kiss her. She wants to, but stops him and says, "Not yet."
  • Standing before a waterfall, Roland strips down to his boxers in front of Maud so that he can swim behind it and check for a cave.
  • Christabel shows a little cleavage and we then see Ash coming up behind her, running his hands over her bare shoulders and slowly undoing the laces to her corset from behind her. He then kisses and playfully bites her back and this makes her aroused. They passionately kiss and he runs his hand along her skirt. We then see them apparently having sex with her on his lap as both are sitting upright on a bed (he's on bent knees). Her body blocks his nudity as she slowly moves on top of him in her nightgown-like clothing. The shot then goes out of focus as he then lowers and gets on top of her. We later see him sitting up in bed shirtless. She then sits up next to him, they kiss and then lie down together face to face and kiss some more with some caressing (we later see this same scene again).
  • Maud refers to Ash as a "soft-core misogynist."
  • Forced to share a room together, Roland and Maud talk while lying (clothed) in the same bed. They then begin to kiss (in a head and shoulders shot), she pulls off his shirt, he's then on top of her, but they stop when she tries to get out from under the covers. He takes that the wrong way (thinking she wants to stop in general), and nothing more happens as they have a bit of a falling out. Later, Maud says she can't imagine what it's like after Roland actually sleeps with someone.
  • Maud and Roland briefly kiss.
  • We see that Christabel is pregnant from the above (or another) sexual encounter with Ash.
  • Roland and Maud passionately kiss.
  • A miscellaneous man smokes a pipe.
  • Ellen tells Ash that she doesn't think she's been a good wife to him (for not bearing any children) and he states that there are different kinds of love. Nevertheless, he ends up cheating on her with Christabel.
  • Ash questions Christabel about what happened or what she did with their child, and she replies by saying that he turned her into a murderess. We later learn, however, that the child was fine (and living with others) and Christabel was referring to something else.
  • Maud briefly indicates that her parents' relationship didn't work out.
  • Affairs.
  • Trying to find information on people from the distant past.
  • Lesbianism.
  • We hear that a woman drowned herself in despair.
  • Maud's comment about relationships between men and women being doomed and that we can't help but tear each other apart.
  • An older home owner holds a rifle on Roland and Maud when he catches them snooping around.
  • Christabel violently overturns her lover's art table after learning she's taken and apparently destroyed Ash's letters to her.
  • The above older home owner holds a rifle on Fergus and another man when they come onto his land.
  • We see a woman walking out into a lake (with rocks sewn into her dress) to drown herself (she succeeds, but we don't see the final act).
  • Maud, Roland and others catch Fergus and another man digging up a grave. One tries to run away with what he's dug up, but Roland grabs him from behind, pins him to the ground and punches him (with some minor bloody results).

  • Reviewed July 19, 2002 / Posted August 16, 2002

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