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The City of Your Final Destination: movie review

In 'The City of Your Final Destination' a biographer pursues his subject to the steamy lands of Uruguay where he discovers an intricate tangle of family relations.

By Peter RainerFilm critic / April 26, 2010



The production company Merchant Ivory has long been regarded, for good or ill, as the imprimatur of "quality" films, especially in the realm of classic literary adaptations. With James Ivory directing most of the movies, and Ismail Merchant acting as producer (and occasional director), they cut a wide swath through the works of Henry James, E.M. Forster, and many others. Their usual screenwriter, Ruth Prawer Jhabvala, has been with Merchant Ivory from the beginning, with "The Householder" (1963).

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Merchant died in 2005, just as a new film, "The City of Your Final Destination," was gearing up. Filmed three years ago, and delayed by money troubles, it is only now getting its release. It's the first Merchant Ivory film without Merchant's involvement, and yet, in many ways, it exhibits what is both good and not so good about the company's ongoing legacy.

Based on the 2002 novel of the same name by Peter Cameron, "The City of Your Final Destination" is a chamber drama that takes place, more often than not, in the open air. Omar Razaghi (Omar Metwally), an academic at the University of Colorado, is intent on furthering his career by writing the authorized biography of Jules Gund, the famous one-shot European expatriate novelist who recently killed himself while living in Uruguay. Prodded by his colleague and girlfriend, Deirdre (Alexandra Maria Lara), whose ambitions far exceed his own, Omar pays an unwelcome visit to the Gund compound – a steamy expanse of property known as "Ocho Rios" – and attempts to persuade Jules's heirs to cooperate with him.

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