Review of Tulip Fever (2017) by Big Tuna for Berk Reviews
“Tulip Fever” was initially supposed to come out in 2015, and I was thoroughly excited for it. I love Christoph Waltz, and I had just seen “Ex Machina”, and I loved Alicia Vikander’s performance. Then it got delayed. I knew something was up. It kept getting delayed, once even getting pulled less that a week before its supposed release. Despite the claims made by the distributor, there is obviously a reason why this was delayed…It’s just not very good.
Tulip Fever doesn’t raise anyone’s temperature
With a romance set during a historical crisis and a cast like this, this film should have been awards bait. Unfortunately, any potential held by this film on paper was crushed by a lackluster script. Honestly, I think that the story was fundamentally flawed. In a film about an affair where I am expected to sympathize with the person committing the adultery, I expect there to be at the very least an attempt at justification. In this film, though, Christoph Waltz’s character seemed to be a perfectly loving husband. He didn’t mistreat her. He wasn’t neglecting her. Other than the fact that the marriage was arranged, there seemed to be no reason that she should resent him. As such, I didn’t really sympathize with her quest for love. Then there’s the dialogue. There are moments in the film that devolve into downright hilarity. Multiple times throughout the film, Christoph Waltz refers to his “little soldier” even one time telling it to “stand at attention”. It’s really silly and brings down the professionalism of the film. Apart from that, the plot is really a jumbled mess as a whole. The elements involving the Dutch Tulip Market are the most interesting, but aren’t explained very well, and when they try, you can barely hear them. Then there are supporting characters thrown in their whose contribution to the film is minimal and doesn’t really make much sense.
Execution-wise, I guess you can say the film is pretty solid. The set design is really impressive. The filmmakers did a good job of recreating the setting of 17th century Amsterdam. The cinematography is also good, doing a good job of capturing these environments. I didn’t really notice the score of the film, so it must not have been particularly impressive, nor of a particularly low quality. The sex scenes weren’t quite as bad as I had expected, with only one being overly excessive and graphic, but the comparatively brief ones are very frequent. The acting varies by the role. Vikander, Dench, and Waltz are all good. DeHaan, Grainger, and O’Connell are okay, but nothing spectacular. Galifianakis, Morrison, and Delevingne all fall into the category of not really being necessary because their roles are so insignificant.
Overall, “Tulip Fever” isn’t quite the travesty of the crash of the eponymous era, but it’s not particularly good, either. It isn’t unbearable, but I found it to be dry and a little tough to sit through. It’s thoroughly disappointing that the talent in front of and behind the camera is squandered on this lackluster product. This was Not a Total Waste of Time.