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The Return of James Ivory

 

James Ivory, the legendary director of such classic films as ROOM WITH A VIEW and HOWARD’S END, and part of the legendary Merchant/Ivory producing team, returns to the big screen with his newest film THE CITY OF YOUR FINAL DESTINATION. The film also marks his reunion with actor Anthony Hopkins, who starred in the director’s HOWARD’S END and THE REMAINS OF THE DAY, as well as a stellar cast that also includes Laura Linney, Charlotte Gainsbourg, Norma Aleandro and newcomer Omar Metwally.

 

THE CITY IS YOUR FINAL DESTINATION is the first film from the veteran director made without his late producer (and life partner) Ismail Merchant. However, several people long associated with the director’s work are also on board for his newest production. Ivory's long-time collaborator scenarist Ruth Jhabvala has written the screenplay, John David Allen has edited the film, and Javier Aguirresarobe is the cinematographer. Two of Ivory's favorite designers, the art director Andrew Sanders and costume designer Carol Ramsey, also worked on the film, which was shot in Argentina's pampas. The film’s musical score is by Jorge Drexler, whose Academy Award-winning song from THE MOTORCYCLE DIARIES won the Oscar for Best Song in 2006.

 

The film is based on Peter Cameron's 2002 novel of the same name. The film follows a graduate student, Omar Razaghi (Omar Metwally), who wishes to write a biography on an obscure writer, Jules Gund, who died years before. He must travel to Uruguay to persuade the Gund family to authorize the biography. The Gund family, living in two big rundown houses on an overgrown, steamy estancia reacts to the intrusion in different ways. The writer's widow Caroline Gund (an unusually acerbic Laura Linney) stubbornly states that she will never ever give her permission. The writer's brother Adam Gund (Hopkins) has a contrary opinion: a biography can only help to keep the writer's name before a book-buying public. How Omar comes in time to have his wish granted, and the effect of that on his future, makes up the plot of this film about the random nature of love and the ways in which we avoid or confront life's choices. The film, which was shot in Argentina and Colorado, was actually finished in 2007 and had an early preview in New York City at a November 2007 ceremony of the Trophée des Arts for James Ivory from the French Institute New York. The film’s release was held up due to a legal dispute wherein Anthony Hopkins claimed he had not been paid his salary of $750,000. Apparently, the legal matter has since been settled, which has allowed the film to resurface almost three years after completion.  

Ivory premiered the film at the 2009 International Rome Film Festival and also screened at the Tokyo International Film Festival in October. The film will be distributed in the US by Screen Media later this year.

Sandy Mandelberger, Film New York Editor

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Mandelberger Sandy
(International Media Resources)

The Ultimate Guide to the New York Film, Video and New Media Scene.

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