What You Need To Know:
The dialogue in TULIP FEVER is heavy-handed. Also, the entire enterprise feels claustrophobic and stage-bound. TULIP FEVER ends up offering a somewhat positive portrait of Christian forgiveness. The husband forgives his wife although her infidelity ends their marriage. He also displays Christian charity toward the maid. That said, the movie’s graphic depictions of illicit affairs are too titillating and warrant extreme caution, even for adults. TULIP FEVER is too threadbare a movie to be entertaining.
(PaPaPa, RoRo, CC, BB, Ab, SSS, NN, AAA, MM) Mixed worldview with pagan, Christian, moral elements where a woman in engages in a secret affair and concocts an elaborate scheme involving several others in order to flee her marriage, but when her husband finds out, he ultimately offers a touchingly strong sense of forgiveness toward her even as their marriage ends, there are a few scenes of Christian prayer (including one thanking a man for his graciousness toward another family), the consequences of sinfulness are discussed briefly, an elderly nun who leads a convent is shown to be overly stern, greedy and calculating in trying to make money off valuable tulips, but her convent is also shown as saving young girls’ lives from being homeless and penniless, and [SPOILER] adulterous wife eventually becomes a nun; no obscenities or profanities; no violence; adulterous and premarital sex depicted graphically in at least three scenes, there are numerous innuendo references by the cheated-upon husband to his genitals (such as saying his “little soldier is ready”), and a “women’s doctor” is implied trying to take inappropriate liberties with women during his examinations but gets humorously slapped for trying; upper and rear female nudity and upper and rear male nudity in several scenes; a character gives up his battle against alcoholism and engages in wild drunkenness, although there are major consequences for this behavior; no smoking or drugs; and, strong miscellaneous immorality involves elaborate deception and scheming to cover up the two sexual affairs depicted in the movie and include showing no regard for the emotional feelings of the cheated-upon husband, the central marriage is shown to be joyless, and its sexual relations as a chore to be endured by the wife, while her affair and an affair between her unmarried housemaid and the maid’s lover are shown with joy, another woman marries her illicit lover, but they seem to have a happy marriage with multiple children, and they give thanks to God for the husband of the other woman and his generosity, a character is shown giving up, the tulip-market financial speculations are greedy and cutthroat throughout the movie.
TULIP FEVER is a romantic drama contrasting the tangled relationships of a cheating wife in 17th Century Amsterdam with the frenzied market caused by financial speculation over the then-exotic flower. TULIP FEVER has some positive Christian content promoting forgiveness, with a message that the human heart and its emotions should not be sold as a commodity, but its heavy-handed and stage-bound, with graphic scenes of infidelity and other objectionable content.
The movie tells the story of a woman named Sophia (Alicia Vikander) who’s rescued from a life of poverty by becoming the wife of a wealthy trader named Cornelis [sic] (played by Christoph Waltz), who expects her to bear him a son at all costs. His first wife died in childbirth and their baby died, but he and Sophia don’t realize that Sophia is infertile.
Cornelis is extremely vain and hires an artist named Jan (Dane DeHaan) to paint their portrait as a couple. Sophia and Jan become attracted to each other and wind up having a secret affair. When Sophia’s maid, Maria (Holliday Grainger), becomes pregnant from her own illicit affair with a fishmonger, Maria and Sophia hatch an elaborate scheme. [SPOILERS FOLLOW] Maria will hide her pregnancy while Sophia will pretend to be pregnant, enabling her to please Cornelis with a child while helping Maria avoid the shame of an illegitimate child. Sophia also plans to fake her death at the childbirth in order to flee to a new life with Jan, but a series of twists causes the plans to turn out differently than expected.
The dialogue in TULIP FEVER is heavy-handed. Also, the entire enterprise feels claustrophobic and stage-bound, mostly taking place amid the same five locations. Director Justin Chadwick gives the street scenes an impressive bustle at times, but when they seem to take place over and over on the same block or two, it becomes an annoying distraction to the story.
TULIP FEVER ends up offering a somewhat positive portrait of forgiveness, as Cornelis leaves Amsterdam for a new life and gives Maria his home to raise her child. She’s shown eventually married to the baby’s father and being the happy mother to more children, while Cornelis eventually rears a family elsewhere as Maria and her clan say a prayer of thankfulness for his kindness. Thus, the movie doesn’t simply offer a negative portrait of marriage, showing it can be happy under the right circumstances.
As Cornelis, Christoph Waltz ultimately becomes the most sympathetic character. He deals with the shocking discoveries of his wife’s betrayal by rising above it. Sophia and Jan are such devious, self-centered characters they are unpleasant to root for, but the movie does show that their actions are wrong and have consequences.
Despite the positive elements of forgiveness and ultimately happy view of marriage depicted near the end, TULIP FEVER is too threadbare a movie to be entertaining. Its graphic depictions of adulterous and premarital affairs are too titillating and warrant extreme caution for the movie’s intended adult audience.