The Golden Bowl


Generally favorable reviews - based on 30 Critics

Critic score distribution:
  1. Positive: 18 out of 30
  2. Negative: 1 out of 30

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Critic Reviews

  1. Wall Street Journal
    Reviewed by: Joe Morgenstern
    The team's (Merchant-Ivory) best adaptation yet of a Henry James novel.
  2. Yet another Merchant Ivory triumph.
  3. 83
    It's splendid period filmmaking, grown-up and luxurious and gossipy without ever feeling fussy.
  4. If this handsome, faithful, intelligent screen adaptation of the novel doesn't leave you devastated, its ominous sense of a rarefied moral and aesthetic world bending before the accelerating streetcar of history will leave you with a mournful sense of loss.
  5. Mr. Showbiz
    Reviewed by: Kevin Maynard
    A meticulously mounted film that retains the author's ambiguous characterizations yet is still emotionally accessible.
  6. Boston Globe
    Reviewed by: Jay Carr
    What Merchant, Ivory and Co. arrive at is a sort of handsomely illustrated Cliffs Notes version of the novel.
  7. Philadelphia Inquirer
    Reviewed by: Steven Rea
    If The Golden Bowl -- isn't charged with electric emotion, well, that's not what Henry James or James Ivory is about.
  8. Too staid and stolid for audiences on the hunt for easy entertainment.
  9. New York Post
    Reviewed by: Jonathan Foreman
    But it is Thurman who stands out, with a marvelous, full-blooded performance, her best in some time, as tragic Charlotte.
  10. 75
    I admired this movie. It kept me at arm's length, but that is where I am supposed to be; the characters are after all at arm's length from each other, and the tragedy of the story is implied but never spoken aloud.
  11. 70
    Seen in the bowl's metaphoric reflection, Nolte's Adam, with his patronizing wish to build a great art museum to "give something back" to the poor laborers who built his fortune, is a complex American monster.
  12. Another handsome, dramatically moribund adaptation of a grand old classic.
  13. 70
    Were the casting stronger, the film -- would have had a better chance of transcending its lack of subtlety.
  14. Worth the price of admission if only to see the slinky Thurman decked out in a form-fitting, sequined pre-flapper era outfit. The word stunning hardly does her justice.
  15. There's no mirth, and precious little passion, left in this house.
  16. If it's not perfect, it still gives pleasure to the eye.
  17. Miami Herald
    Reviewed by: Rene Rodriguez
    Certainly diverting and, in Thurman, it also has a knockout of a performance.
  18. Nolte, at least, delivers his lines with laser accuracy, and gives The Golden Bowl the life that so much cogitation could have drained from it.
  19. 60
    This early-1900s costume drama surely differs from Henry James's source novel.
  20. What makes Nolte so much stronger than the other performers is precisely this sense of mysteriousness and indirection, which doesn't really correspond to the Adam Verver of the novel but certainly jibes with James's overall method.
  21. The restraint so magnificently applied in "The Remains of the Day" has simply fallen into disconnection.
  22. 50
    Though it often wallows in louche baroque textures, The Golden Bowl is perhaps the most visually accomplished of the Ivory soaps.
  23. Henry James' tangled, turgid prose always seems to me like a thicket of thorn trees -- so I should be grateful when somebody does the job for me on film. But I'm not - at least, in the case of The Golden Bowl.
  24. Reviewed by: Emanuel Levy
    A deliberately paced literary film that takes too long to build narrative momentum and explore its central dramatic conflicts.
  25. 50
    What is grating is the filmmakers' perennial tendency to underestimate their audiences; their lack of faith leads them to drive home each nuance with a hammer.
  26. Reviewed by: Mike Clark
    The movie establishes good will (or even great will) in the initial scenes because it's so gorgeous, but the rest is such a slog.
  27. Chicago Tribune
    Reviewed by: Mark Caro
    Dances in circles until you tire of admiring it.
  28. Impeccably mounted, nicely scored and beautifully written.
  29. 40
    Its splendor cannot be denied, but then again neither can the emptiness of this Henry James adaptation.
  30. 25
    Takes a literary milestone of ambiguity and makes everything about it blisteringly obvious.
User Score

Mixed or average reviews- based on 11 Ratings

User score distribution:
  1. Positive: 1 out of 5
  2. Negative: 3 out of 5
  1. ReneeD.
    Jul 19, 2006
    Those who enjoy period pieces will find this movie thoughtful and intriguing. The morés of that era demand the emotional subleties and Those who enjoy period pieces will find this movie thoughtful and intriguing. The morés of that era demand the emotional subleties and restraints portrayed in the film and those who do not appreciate the formality of that era will probably find this movie less than engrossing. Apart from this, the movie was beautifully made and in itself makes this movie worth viewing. Full Review »