Restoration - * * *

Ribald tale of a foolish young doctor maturing during the 16th century. Robert Downey, Jr., plays the doctor, who is taken into the court of King Charles II (Sam Neill), when he serendipitiously heals the king’s favorite dog. He is given a knighthood, an estate, and the King’s current favorite mistress to marry (on the sole condition that he not love her). The doctor enjoys his newfound luxury, but disobeys the king, and falls for his beautiful wife. A vengeful painter (Hugh Grant) betrays him to the king, and soon the doctor is thrown out of luxury and forced to survive on his own. Robert Downey, Jr., does a fine job in the primary role, guiding the audience easily through his journey from fool to man. He is complemented by a talented supporting cast (also including Meg Ryan and David Thewlis). The period detail is well done, capturing the spirit of England during the Black Plague. However, the tone of the picture is inconsistent. Just when you start to think the whole film is designed to be a farce, the mood shifts to complete earnestness. There is also a problem with the pacing of the film. Some scenes seem to drag on for an eternity, others fly by so fast they’re easy to miss. The direction overall gives an uneven feel to a film which could have been much better.

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