I just realized that Steven Greydanus reviewed Brideshead Revisited, and somehow I missed it. He knows the book, and he gives the movie a lashing.

Brideshead Revisited, directed by Julian Jarrold (Becoming Jane) from a screenplay by Jeremy Brock (The Last King of Scotland) and Andrew Davies (Bridget Jones’s Diary), gets a few things right. The allure of the opulent elegance of Brideshead (York’s Castle Howard, as in the miniseries) for middle-class artist Charles Ryder (Matthew Goode, Match Point), and in particular the enigmatic appeal of Julia Flyte (Hayley Atwell), for instance. The dry humor of Charles’s strained relationship with his eccentric father, for another.

Even the portrayal of the Flytes’ dysfunctional Catholicism isn’t without merit. Sebastian’s line “I’m not a heathen, I’m a sinner,” is not from the book (“half-heathens” is how Waugh’s Sebastian describes himself and his sister Julia), but I think Waugh might have approved.

Yet this Brideshead Revisited ultimately subverts Waugh’s subtlest and most subversive achievement: It offers all the foibles and puzzlement of the Flytes’ religious world, while all but obliterating the threads of grace running through their lives.

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