Our Rating: ★★★☆☆
L Factor: Major lesbian content
Short Take: Set in 1876, Boston feminist Olive (Vanessa Redgrave) is attracted to a young women’s suffrage speaker. Will this be the perfect Boston marriage?
Alternate Titles:
Year: 1984
Duration: 122 min
Language: UK, USA/English
MPAA: Not Rated
Director: James Ivory
Writer: Henry James, Ruth Prawer Jhabvala
Starring: Christopher Reeve, Vanessa Redgrave, Jessica Tandy, Madeleine Potter, Nancy Marchand, Wesley Addy, Barbara Bryne, Linda Hunt

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BostoniansProduced by the masters of the Victorian drama, Merchant Ivory. Set in 1876, Boston feminist Olive (Vanessa Redgrave, If These Walls Could Talk 2, Julia, ‘Nip/Tuck’) is magnetically attracted to young Verena (Madeleine Potter), who becomes a speaker for women’s suffrage.

Verena moves in with the older Olive and promises never to marry, as they become very close and devote their lives to the movement. But along comes Olive’s distant cousin Basil (Christopher Reeve), an anti-suffrage southern lawyer who also falls for Verena, much to Olive’s dismay.

So … we have hugs and tenderness between two women and the hope that they live their lives out in that Victorian institution of the Boston Marriage. But Cousin Basil tells Verena that ‘it’s not natural to give yourself to a movement or some morbid old maid.’

When it comes down to making her decision, she turns into a vapid disappointment, choosing a traditional marriage to a man who does not share her political beliefs and will not allow her to speak publicly again.

Poor Olive loses her beloved Verena, but she becomes stronger and more self confident in the end. She can do so much better – and so can we.

Linda Hunt (The Year of Living Dangerously, Waiting for the Moon) is also in the cast, in addition to Jessica Tandy (Fried Green Tomatoes) and Nancy Marchand. Redgrave was nominated for a Best Actress Oscar for her performance. Adapted from the classic Henry James novel of the same name. (AB)