Henry James`s biting novel WASHINGTON SQUARE is given a lush adaptation from acclaimed director Agnieszka Holland (EUROPA EUROPA), buoyed by sharp performances from its cast. The story concerns Austin Sloper (Albert Finney), a wealthy, widowed doctor who is unable to hide his disdain for his plain, shrinking violet daughter, Catherine (Jennifer Jason Leigh). When Morris Townsend (Ben Chaplin) enters her life--a charming, but penniless, suitor--Austin`s lack of faith in his daughter`s ability to charm convinces him that Morris`s intentions are only mercenary. Catherine doesn`t take kindly to her stern father`s restrictions and continues the relationship, assisted by her romantically inclined dowager aunt, Lavinia Penniman (Maggie Smith).
With WASHINGTON SQUARE, Holland adds another cinematic genre, American period drama, to her impressive resume. Working with production designer Allan Starski and costume designer Anna Sheppard, Holland recreates Victorian-era New York City with a visual beauty that belies the film`s sharp dramatic edge. Featuring standout performances by an all-star cast (notably Leigh, Finney, Chaplin, and Smith), WASHINGTON SQUARE is a memorable work from the versatile director.