I had never even heard of The City of Your Final Destination until I was browsing my local video store last weekend. After seeing the film, I’m astounded that it wasn’t at least nominated for an Oscar. Based on the novel by Peter Cameron and directed by James Ivory, The City of Your Final Destination stars Anthony Hopkins, Laura Linney and Charlotte Gainsburg as the brother, widow, and lover of a deceased, one hit wonder author named Jules Gund. The three have become trustees of the author’s estate and reside together in the author’s house in Uruguay. Aspiring literature professor Omar Razaghi (played by Omar Metwally) travels to Uruguay in hopes of convincing the peculiar trio of heirs to authorize his biography of the author.
The story that follows Omar’s arrival in Uruguay is rife with difficult romantic entanglements, familial drama, and moments of almost poetic poignancy that completely alter the lives of the central characters.
Omar soon finds his own life becoming so bound up with his new acquaintances that he begans to question the original purpose of his journey as well as the overall direction of his life and career. Meanwhile, his unexpected and initially unwelcome presence disturbs the fragile peace of the heirs’ unusual co-existence, forcing each of them to reexamine their relationships with their lost author and with each other.
In the end, each must choose between continuing with the safe status quo of their respective lives or facing the terrifying challenges and exhilarating possibilities of change.
Wide, panoramic shots of the picturesque setting blend Merchant Ivory‘s signature sophisticated elegance with the atmospheric beauty of films like Stealing Beauty and Before Sunset. Yet the intimate, almost Chekhovian plot and subtle, emotive performances by the actors – particularly that of Charlotte Gainsburg – keep the film grounded in a lovely but very human imperfection.
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