Tulip Fever

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Tulip Fever

Runtime 107 minutes

I read the classic investing book Extraordinary Popular Delusions and the Madness of Crowds (Charles Mackay, 1841) decades ago. It’s a fascinating book and required reading for anybody who is seriously interested in investing. Its first story is about the tulip mania that infected Holland in the 17th century. It’s hard to believe but people paid huge amounts of money for tulips! Many lost fortunes.

This movie written by Tom Stoppard and directed by Justin Chadwick is based in Holland when tulip mania was at a fever pitch. While it stars my favorite, Alicia Vikander (who takes off her clothes and reveals a lot more about herself than we’ve ever seen), and also Christoph Waltz, the plot is more akin to the screwball comedies of the ‘30s and ‘40s.

The roles of Sophia (Vikander) and her husband Cornelius Sandvoort (Waltz) could just as easily been played by Lucille Ball or Irene Dunne and Dennis O’Keefe or Cary Grant, respectively, had this exact same story been played for laughs and directed by Alan Dwan or Garson Kanin.

But it’s not played for laughs; it’s deadly serious as Sophia schemes with her servant, Maria (Holliday Granger), to provide the much older Cornelius with the child he so fervently desires. All the while she’s in a steamy extra-marital affair with Jan Von Loos (Dane DeHaan), a painter retained by Cornelius to do a portrait of him and Sophia. At the same time, Maria has a hot romance herself with Willem (Jack O’Connell) which eventually becomes the key to the entire movie.

The recreation of 17th Century Holland is very well done, as are the costumes. The acting is superb throughout. I thought it was a little light on substance, but still entertaining. But what a great comedy it could have been!


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