The heart wants what the heart wants. Unless it doesn’t, in which case all sorts of emotional torture and mind games ensue. Ernest Hemingway’s The Garden of Eden, directed by John Irvin, sees an American couple traveling through France on their honeymoon when the fetishist wife with possessive issues brings a third party into the relationship, first as a toy and then as a rival as she loses control. The film doesn’t allow itself much time to build before it jumps into the story of a bizarre love triangle that attempts to shine some light on the impulses love can inspire.
Jack Huston and Mena Suvari play the newlyweds David and Catherine Bourne whose relationship starts off-balance; she hailing from a family of wealth, and he the writer that so intrigues her while giving her the air of control as he relies on her financially in all things. On an outing near Cannes, they come across the beautiful and exotic Marita (Caterina Murino) who subsequently becomes a pawn in Catherine’s game. Does it work as a parallel of the biblical story? Somewhat, though it’s not always easy to tell who represents whom. Clearly Catherine is the snake, and Jack is Adam, but is Marita supposed to be Eve or the fruit of knowledge? It’s here that the film somewhat loses its grasp on the source material, but overall the film maintains its momentum after the initial half hour.
Huston and Murino deliver respectable performances, but a combination of the script and Suvari’s choices make Catherine come across as an over-dramatic wreck whose intentions could never be mistaken for anything other than malice.
DVD Bonus Features
"The Garden of Eden" is on sale March 15, 2011 and is rated R. Drama. Directed by John Irvin. Written by James Scott Linville. Starring Jack Huston, Mena Suvari, Caterina Murino.