December 03, 2010


COLESMITHEY.COM"Everything's right 'til it's wrong." Although the line comes from a supporting character, it foretells the dismal fate of director John Irvin's attempt to adapt Hemingway's troublesome posthumously-published novel.

Hemingway's alter-ego Jack Huston is played by newcomer David Bourne. It's not a memorable performance. Jack takes his bad-animal wife Catherine on an extended summer vacation on the French Riviera after she buys him an expensive sports car.

Ernest Hemingway's The Garden of Eden (1986) | Picnic Wit

She's a wealthy heiress. He's a poor but successful writer who likes to stand while banging away at his manual typewriter.

Jack nicknames Catherine (played with sensual abandon by Mena Suvari) "Devil" for her fickle nature — a trait that comes to define their doomed relationship. Once planted in an idealistic seaside lodge where they are the only guests, Catherine initiates a childish brand of androgynous sexual transference.

Hemingway's Garden of Eden (2008) - Rotten Tomatoes

She gets her blonde hair cut short, and insists that Jack get his hair cut and dyed to match. She seduces an Italian woman named Marita into a live-in ménage à trois arrangement, then woefully attempts to orchestrate its volatile trajectory. If all this erotic mixing of bodily fluids sounds titillating, it is. The scenery is lovely too.

The Garden of Eden (2008) short review –

However, these are distractions rather than narrative fruit. Flashback sequences about Jack's adventures with his father in Africa have the look and feel of scenes from a soap opera. The quality is not on par with feature filmmaking.

Hemingway's Garden of Eden |

Hemingway seemed to be experimenting with taboos of human sexual behavior; here that exploration comes off as shallow. This is a film that feels more like a dalliance than a committed pursuit.

Rated R. 111 mins.

2 Stars

Groupthink doesn't live here, critical thought does.

This website is dedicated to Agnès Varda and to Luis Buñuel.

Get cool rewards when you click on the button to pledge your support through Patreon.

Cole Smithey on Patreon


Feed You can follow this conversation by subscribing to the comment feed for this post.

Verify your Comment

Previewing your Comment

This is only a preview. Your comment has not yet been posted.

Your comment could not be posted. Error type:
Your comment has been saved. Comments are moderated and will not appear until approved by the author. Post another comment

The letters and numbers you entered did not match the image. Please try again.

As a final step before posting your comment, enter the letters and numbers you see in the image below. This prevents automated programs from posting comments.

Having trouble reading this image? View an alternate.


Post a comment

Comments are moderated, and will not appear until the author has approved them.

Featured Video

SMART NEW MEDIA® Custom Videos



Throwback Thursday

Podcast Series