Victory review

Brave director Mark Peploe fashions a rather tiresome story out of one of Joseph Conrad's more impenetrable novels. The torturous plot, which is set in 1913, revolves around island hermit Axel Heyst (Dafoe) who stays at Mr Schomberg's whites-only hotel in the East Indies while he picks up his dead father's belongings.

There, he saves pretty violinist Alma (Jacob) from being `sold' to the supremacist hotel owner, and helps her escape back to his remote island paradise. Schomberg (Yanne) swears revenge and when opium-puffing, gay gent Mr Jones (Neill) and his companions arrive to con the hotel's guests out of their money (with a rigged gambling set-up), the hotelier directs the sinister villains to Heyst's home with the promise of hidden riches.

Victory is shot on a majestic scale, and with all the white flannel suits and obedient manservants, it effectively invokes images of the British colonial era. But it never quite gets a grip on Conrad's menacing storyline. The cinematography is stunning, the acting passable. But the plodding pace and the lack of fire in its belly will cripple this handsome adaptation at the box office. Imagine a BBC mini-series without the cliff-hangers and any truly likeable characters. That's Victory in a nutshell.

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