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Under Heaven (In the Shadows)

Updated on January 14, 2020


It's not surprising when pleasing literature is made into films. It's not even surprising when it happens again and again. Take Pride and Prejudice for instance; there are at least five film interpretations of it. Henry James novel, The Wings of the Dove (1902) is no different. This classical piece has been adapted and updated in Under Heaven (also titled In the Shadows).

In Seattle, Washington lives Eleanor (Joely Richardson) Dunston, a lovely, sweet and lonely heiress with terminal cancer. She hires Cynthia (Molly Parker) to take care of her in the end stages of her life. Cynthia is a transient, living day by day with her drug and alcohol abusing boyfriend, Buck (Aden Young). She sets him up in an apartment while she lives like a princess in Eleanor's estate.

Cynthia and Eleanor easily become friends despite their different interests and backgrounds. Cynthia has all but forgotten about Buck until Eleanor mentions him in passing, making her long for him again. She goes to visit him at the apartment only to find he's moved out. She's saddened by this and misses him even more.

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The Loving Threesome

A short time passes and Cynthia and Buck meet up in a market where he's singing on the corner with a friend. She learns he's given up the drugs and alcohol because he was tired of having nothing going on in his head. Their relationship quickly rekindles and she concocts a plan to get him a live-in job as Eleanor's gardener. But only if he agrees to say he's her brother.

Everything seems all innocent and peaceful until you realize Cynthia is pushing Buck toward Eleanor hoping she will form an attachment to him. Cynthia doesn't expect the feelings to go both ways.

This is a beautifully acted and filmed story especially the scenes on Eleanor's grounds or the ones with the three of them together. History is abounding with tales of threesomes in love and this one is true to the theme. All the actors hold their own and accent one another's strengths. Despite the sadness of the subject matter the viewer is left feeling that everything is as it should be and that the right kind of love can leave a lasting and altering impression even after the person is gone.

I thoroughly enjoyed this film and highly recommend it if you can find it. It is a 1998 independent film that suffered some financial troubles and was sold at auction; to who is beyond me. I was able to see it on one of the satellite channels. I wasn't able to find it for sale at B&N or Amazon but "rare" copes exist on eBay.

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In the Shadows
In the Shadows
I thoroughly enjoyed this film and highly recommend it if you can find it. It is a 1998 Indie Film that suffered some financial troubles and was sold at auction. I was able to see it on one of the satellite channels. Rare copies can be found on Amazon sellers and eBay.

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More Joely Richardson

I actually quite enjoy many of Joely Richardson's movies. Here is a small selection of other favorites starring her.

Also starring a very young Sean Bean.

Thank you for stopping by to read my review of Under Heaven.


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