Tulip Fever
Tulip Fever

Screenings: November 10-16

Show Times: Nightly at 7:30pm, Saturday Matinee at 1:30pm and Sunday Matinee at 2:30pm. No one will be admitted after the film has started.

Admission: Regular $7; Matinees $6; MVFS Members $5; Seniors over 60, Military and Students with ID $6; Wednesdays $5

Running Time: 105 min

Language/Subtitles: English

Film Director: Justin Chadwick


Amsterdam, 1634: a town gripped by tulip mania.  That's going to require a bit of explanation, isn't it?

The tulip had only recently been introduced to Europe, and quickly became a status symbol in the Netherlands. In what's widely considered the first instance of the "speculator bubble" phenomenon, the prices for tulip bulbs soared — and eventually, inevitably, crashed.

Director Justin Chadwick's film Tulip Fever, like the best-selling 1999 novel by Deborah Moggach on which it's based, is set during this period of collective obsession — and wild speculation.

Wealthy merchant Cornelius (Christoph Waltz), married to the beautiful and much younger Sophia (Alicia Vikander), hires promising young painter Jan Van Loos (Dane DeHaan) to take their portrait. Upon first catching sight of Sophia, Jan is transfixed, unable to stop looking at her.

It doesn't take too many posing sessions for them to do more than just look at each other.

The two begin a torrid affair; Chadwick keeps them dashing through Amsterdam's teeming streets and markets to avoid detection, lingering awhile in those where traders calculate dividends while bidding on tulip futures.

The screenplay blends virtue and vanity, God and guilders, bulbs and blackmail. And if it's got too much of some of those elements to fit comfortably into one movie, it has still been cleverly penned — I'm picturing with actual quills — by Moggach and playwright Tom Stoppard.

Stoppard, remember, wrote the screenplay for the 1998 film Shakespeare in Love, which brought wit and romance to this same period. Tulip Fever is not in that film's league, but it's lush and boisterous and crammed with the sort of arts gossip and commerce trivia that go nicely with gilded frames and talk of tulip futures.

Where else would you learn, for instance, that Renaissance painters dressed the Virgin Mary in blue not because it was the color of purity, but because it was the color that cost the most. "Ultramarino," explains our lovesick painter, means "blue from across the sea."

Count that little tidbit as a dividend paid by a movie that lets its characters get perhaps too feverish over tulips, but that has the great good sense to dress its leading lady in ultramarine when she's sitting for that portrait.  Bob Mondello, NPR