Washington Square

MPAA Rating: PG

Entertainment: +3

Content: +2 1/2

This adaptation of Henry James' novel, set in New York City in the mid 1880s, has Oscar caliber acting, beautiful settings and a compelling story. Jennifer Jason Leigh portrays Catherine, a lonely, rather plain spinster who lives with her widowed father, Dr. Sloper(Albert Finney), and her Aunt Lavinia (Maggie Smith). Catherine has spent her life trying to please her perfectionist father. The harder she tries, however, the clumsier the results and the harsher her father's criticism. It is no wonder Dr. Sloper eyes with suspicion the attention suddenly showered on Catherine by a dashing, handsome and penniless young man (Ben Chaplin). After all, the doctor had married into a wealthy family himself. Is he just being protective of his daughter, or does he want the girl to suffer because her mother died giving birth to her? And what are the real motives of Catherine's suitor? Old timers may recognize WASHINGTON SQUARE as a remake of a 1940s film called "The Heiress" starring Olivia de Havilland. This classic bittersweet love story will not appeal to the young and restless who demand action, and it will probably attract more women than men.

In keeping with the restrained demeanor of society in the 1800s, only one mild crude word is used. Likewise, the young lovers' scenes are tastefully done with a few bold kisses and passionate embraces, but no premarital sex is implied beetween them. When Catherine's scheming Aunt Lavinia holds a secret meeting in a seedy cafe, she hears odd noises coming from behind a curtain. She peeks and apparently sees a couple having sex but has no idea what she sees. The audience does not see it. A very brief glimpse of a bloody childbirth and the mother's dead body explains Catherine's lonely childhood and her father's coldness towards his child. A father like Dr. Sloper in the 1990s would likely be accused of emotional abuse. His derogatory remarks about his daughter's plain looks, dull wit and lack of charm have destroyed any positive self-esteem she might have had. As a little girl, Catherine is so humiliated by her father, she loses control of her bladder before a room full of guests. But Catherine ultimately develops enough confidence and independence to become a much-admired young woman in spite of her lover's betrayal and her father's contempt. Strictly adult fare, WASHINGTON SQUARE can be recommended for mature audiences.

Preview Reviewer: Mary Draughon
Buena Vista (Hollywood Pictures) Distribution, 3900 W. Alameda Ave., Burbank, CA 91521

The following categories contain objective listings of film content which contribute to the subjective numeric Content ratings posted to the left and on the Home page.

Crude Language: Once - Mild

Obscene Language: None

Profanity: None

Violence: None

Sex: Implied once (sex sounds behind curtain)

Nudity: Once (bare-breasted dummies in doctor's office)

Sexual Dialogue/Gesture: A few passionate kisses

Drugs: Some social drinking


Running Time: 110 minutes
Intended Audience: Adults

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