It’s an English major’s fantasy: academics, literature, personal letters, mystery, and romance. Randolph Henry Ash (Jeremy Northam) is a fictional poet of the Victorian era. Ash is well regarded and successful; his poetry even admired by the Queen. In addition to his poetry, Ash was known as a paragon of fidelity.
So when literary scholar Roland Michell (Aaron Eckhart) comes upon a letter by Ash that indicates an affair, it’s a scandalous bombshell. Michell, suspecting that Ash’s love interest is Christabel LaMotte (another, though lesser, poet), seeks the help of Dr. Maud Bailey (Gwyneth Paltrow) who not only is an expert on LaMotte’s poetry, but also a distant relative.
Based on the 1990 novel by British author A. S. Byatt, the film moves back and forth between the Victorian story of Ash and LaMotte and the developing story and romance between Michell and Bailey. The more compelling of the two romances is that of Ash and LaMotte, perhaps because the era, the mystery and the nature of Ash’s relationship with his wife as well as LaMotte’s relationship with Blanche Glover (Lena Headey). Bailey and Michell aren’t the only ones on the trail of this discovery; and the race to get the goods on Ash and LaMotte add to the suspense.
Cast and characters include:
Dr. Maud Bailey – Gwyneth Paltrow (Infamous, Shallow Hal, The Royal Tenebaums, The Talented Mr. Ripley)
Roland Michell – Aaron Eckhart (The Dark Knight, Any Given Sunday, Suspect Zero, The Rum Diary)
Randolph Henry Ash – Jeremy Northam (The Tudors, Bobby Jones: Stroke of Genius, Gosford Park, The Golden Bowl)
Christabel LaMotte – Jennifer Ehle (Zero Dark Thirty, The Ides of March, The King’s Speech, Pride and Prejudice)
Blanche Glover – Lena Headey (300, Game of Thrones, Ripley’s Game, The Brothers Grimm)
Fergus Wolfe – Toby Stephens (Black Sails, The Machine, Die Another Day)