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The Four Feathers

movie reviewmovie review out of 4 Movie Review: The Four Feathers

Starring: Heath Ledger, Kate Hudson
Director: Shekhar Kapur
Rated: PG-13
RunTime: 123 Minutes
Release Date: September 2002
Genres: Action, Drama

*Also starring: Wes Bentley, Djimon Hounsou, Lucy Gordon, Michael Sheen, Rupert Penry-Jones, Tim Pigott-Smith

Review by Steve Rhodes
2 stars out of 4

THE FOUR FEATHERS is the seventh film based on A.E.W. Mason's novel of the same name. Badly miscast and directed, it's a costume drama set in the late 1800s that is a half hour too long.

Heath Ledger, who is marvelous in frivolous comedies like A KNIGHT'S TALE or 10 THINGS I HATE ABOUT YOU, attempts to play the story's dramatic lead, Harry Faversham, an army soldier who resigns his commission when his regiment is to be sent to fight in the Sudan. Four of his "friends" send Harry white feathers representing cowardice. Although Ledger gives it his all, he is rarely convincing. Even worse is Academy Award nominee Kate Hudson, who was so precious and poignant in ALMOST FAMOUS. As Ethne Eustace, Harry's fiancée, she brings nothing to her role. Wes Bentley (AMERICAN BEAUTY) is just slightly better as Lt. Jack Durrance, Harry's friend and rival for Ethne's affection.

The plot has Harry going incognito as an Arab behind enemy lines in the Sudan in order to look for an opportunity to prove his bravery and help the friends who had lost faith in him. Director Shekhar Kapur has the same problem that he did with his vastly overrated ELIZABETH. He knows how to compose some interesting images but has no clue how to fashion a compelling story. Although the movie does pick up in the last act during a rousing and nicely filmed battle sequence, most of the movie just lumbers along, feeling like the editing was never finished. Kapur does come out foursquare against British colonialism, which seems to be the only point he is capable of making effectively. He makes this point again and again, lest we might miss it. I'd recommend missing the entire movie.

THE FOUR FEATHERS runs a long 2:03. It is rated PG-13 for "intense battle sequences, disturbing images, violence and some sensuality" but would have been more appropriately rated R given the level of violence. It would be acceptable for most teenagers.

Copyright © 2002 Steve Rhodes

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