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Originally published Thursday, June 17, 2010 at 3:03 PM

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Movie review

'The City of Your Final Destination': A beautiful cinematic journey

A review of "The City of Your Final Destination," a beautiful, literary film about grown-up relationships, starring Anthony Hopkins, Laura Linney and Charlotte Gainsbourg.

Seattle Times movie critic

Movie review 3 stars

'The City of Your Final Destination,' with Anthony Hopkins, Laura Linney, Charlotte Gainsbourg, Hiroyuki Sanada, Omar Metwally, Alexandra Maria Lara, Norma Aleandro. Directed by James Ivory, from a screenplay by Ruth Prawer Jhabvala. 118 minutes. Rated PG-13 for a brief sexual situation with partial nudity. Seven Gables.

Like all Merchant/Ivory films, "The City of Your Final Destination" quietly shimmers.

Though director James Ivory now carries the mantle alone (producer Ismail Merchant died in 2005, after completion of "The White Countess"), the new film, coming after a five-year absence from filmmaking for Ivory, has the literate wisdom and unhurried beauty we've come to expect from the makers of "Howards End," "The Remains of the Day" and "A Room with a View."

Written by longtime collaborator Ruth Prawer Jhabvala, "The City of Your Final Destination" is based on Peter Cameron's novel about a young academic (Omar Metwally) who travels to Uruguay in hopes of convincing a trio of literary heirs — a brother (Anthony Hopkins, crisply vague), a wife (Laura Linney, terrifyingly direct), a mistress (Charlotte Gainsbourg, sweetly wafting) — to allow him to write an authorized biography of a deceased author.

Not much happens in the film's two hours, just the subtleties of a group of thoughtful, interesting grown-ups: a mind changed, a relationship run aground, a complex history delicately hinted at. Listen to how Linney, invited to go visit a local sight, says "I've been there" in a wry tone that turns three words into a novel.

The handsome Metwally ("Munich") is perhaps miscast — more suave and charming than the book's rather bumbling character — and the movie's stately pace sometimes feels just a bit slow. But even so, it's a pleasure to spend time with people who still have a few secrets left by the film's final scene, and a joy to see the amber light and melting orange sunsets captured by cinematographer Javier Aguirresarobe ("Vicky Cristina Barcelona"). Merchant, you sense, would have approved.

Moira Macdonald: 206-464-2725 or mmacdonald@seattletimes.com

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