First Hit: This film personifies the idea that having wonderful actors doesn’t mean the film will be good; this one isn’t.
How can a film with Judi Dench, Alicia Vikander, Christoph Waltz, Zach Galifianakis, Jack O’Connell, and Tom Hollander be so unentertaining? Easy have a lousy script and screenplay and a director that didn't see the problems and fix them.
An Abbess (Dench) takes in lost children and raises them to be taken into homes, be married or become an apprentice nun. One of her grown children is Sophia (Vikander) who is solicited for marriage by a wealthy Amsterdam spice trader named Cornelis Sandvoort (Waltz).
This story takes place when the Dutch in Netherlands become infatuated with Tulips. The bulbs of particular flowering types are auctioned for enormous sums of money. They are bought and sold, as commodities in a riotous bar and brothel near the canals.
Sandvoort is much older and is looking for a wife to bear him a child, preferably a boy. He’s proud of his new young wife, Sophia, and commissions a young painter, Jan Van Loos (Dane DeHaan), to paint a portrait of them.
The film shows their live as very routine and their nightly unenthusiastic sexual attempts to conceive. as time goes by, they become disheartened.
Meanwhile their maid Maria (Holliday Grainger), is having an affair with Willem Brok (O’Connell) and she becomes pregnant. By buying and selling a particular tulip, Willem makes enough money to marry Maria, however he thinks he sees Maria having an affair with the painter, Jan, and in shock and being distraught, leaves Amsterdam without saying goodbye.
The mistake was made because Sophia took Maria’s coat to hide herself while going to see her new lover the artist, Van Loos. Sophia is in love and wants to leave Sandvoort and escape with the artist. To make enough money he gets involved in the tulip options market which is regulated and controlled, in part, by the Abbess. However, the blossom is falling from the tulip market and bidding becomes stagnant. He's panicked that he cannot make enough money.
I won’t bore you with more of this plot but the intense part of the film has to do with fooling Sandvoort about pregnancies and Sophia’s very life.
Vikander did the best she could do with the part. Waltz was strong as the wealthy merchant and his “first to flower, first to fall” line was quintessential Waltz. Dench was good in her limited role as Abbess and tulip controller. Galifianakis was very good as Gerrit, the drunk who lets Jan down. DeHann was okay as the young idealist painter. Hollander was very good as well as Dr. Sorgh, the guy who helps the deception of childbirth. O’Connell was great as the man who loves and eventually comes back to his love. Grainger was fantastic in her role as maid and friend to Sophia. Deborah Moggach and Tom Stoppard wrote a poorly conceived screenplay. Justin Chadwick directed this mess. The overly dark scenes of Amsterdam, Netherlands canal districts with constant fighting, drinking and debauchery didn’t add to this film whatsoever.
Overall: This film was uninteresting and lagged from beginning to end.