Movie Review: "Tulip Fever"

Updated on December 7, 2018
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There are many movies that are worth seeing, but there are a lot of stinkers as well. My goal here is to weed out the good from the bad.

Tulip Fever

Theatrical Release: 9/1/2017
Theatrical Release: 9/1/2017 | Source


Sophia (Alicia Vikander) was orphaned as a child and raised to adulthood by a community of nuns. She ends up catching the eye of a rich older man, named Cornelius Sandvoort (Christoph Waltz), who buys Sophia from the orphanage so that she can be his beautiful young wife and give him and heir.

Within Cornelius' home, Sophia meets his maid, named Maria (Holiday Grainger), who is in a romantic relationship with a fish delivery boy and becomes pregnant. Sophia also finds herself in a love triangle between Cornelius, a hired painter (Dane DeHaan), and herself. She wants to be with the painter, so a plan is conceived in an attempt to give everyone what they want.

This all takes place at the peak of tulip fever. Due to their rarity, tulip bulbs are bought, sold, and gambled on in the black market. Sophia has her plan, but the local obsession with this rare flower has become intertwined with all of their fates.

Official Trailer

The Pros & Cons

The Pros
The Cons
Alicia Vikander (+5pts)
Sex & Nudity (-2pts)
Christoph Waltz (+4pts)
Tulip Fever (-10pts)
Dane DeHaan (+3pts)
Sophia's Guilt (-5pts)
All movies start with an average score of 75pts, points are then awarded for each Pro and taken away for each Con. Each Pro or Con is designated points ranging from 0-10 allowing me to convey to you how significant these Pros or Cons are.

Pro: Alicia Vikander (+5pts)

Alicia Vikander, in her short career, has already proven herself to be a great addition to any film she is in. Does her presence automatically mean that a movie will be great? Of course not, but her incredible talent makes the movie far better than it would have been without her. This movie is no different.

Her character is pretty complex, as she feels grateful towards Cornelius (Christoph Waltz) but she still does not want to be with him. I thought Alicia Vikander did a great job of capturing her character's compassion towards Cornelius. She is not attracted to him, does not want to be with him, but he is kind and, on some level, she cares about him.

That is just one example of the complexity of Alicia Vikander's character, Sophia. There is a lot of depth to Sophia, and Alicia Vikander does a great job in capturing as much of that depth as possible in the time given.


Con: Sex & Nudity (-2pts)

There is quite a bit of sex and nudity in this film. It does not hurt the film too much, but it felt very unnecessary. It was a shame that sex and nudity was given so much screen time while the plot got so little focus. There are a couple of relationships shown in this film and both get plenty of sex time. These scenes were not long but they were abundant.

Sex scenes are fine and can add to a story but, if your movie is already struggling to give enough focus to a complex plot, then sex scenes should be implied instead of shown. Never sacrifice plot for sex; this is film, not porn.


Pro: Christoph Waltz (+4pts)

As should be no surprise, Christoph Waltz is great in this movie. His character, Cornelius, basically bought Alicia Vikander's character to be his bride. It is kind of a messed up situation so naturally, the audience's first reaction is to vilify Cornelius. However Christoph Waltz, through a great performance, is able to turn audiences around.

He adds comedy and heart which makes audiences sympathize with the character. He is flawed and has made bad decisions but he is, at his core, good. I believe Christoph Waltz did a fantastic job of showing that.


Con: Tulip Fever (-10pts)

The biggest problem with this film is the plot. There are two main stories happening in this film. Both are very somewhat related, so the film goes for telling both. M Unfortunately the film does not give either storyline the focus it needs.

During the film, a character is shown as being in a romantic relationship, getting pregnant, going through pregnancy, and having the baby. That should give you a sense of how much time this movie tries to cover. While the pregnancy is happening, Tulip Fever has obsessed so much of the public. The rare flowers are bought and sold on a black market. During the film, you see the height of the tulip obsession as well as how quickly something like that can die out.

There is so much to tell in both of these stories. The film does a good job of showing how intertwined these stories are but does not do a great job of giving either story the focus it needed.


Pro: Dane DeHaan (+3pts)

Dane DeHaan is a good actor that has been in a fair share of disappointing films. Dane DeHaan is never the problem in those films, but they are disappointing nonetheles. Unfortunately, Tulip Fever is no different.

Dane DeHaan plays a struggling but passionate artist who is hired to paint Cornelius and his young wife, Sophia. The artist is awestruck by Sophia's beauty and falls in love with her. Dane DeHaan does a decent job playing this character. He nails the awestruck obsession as well as the inner conflict that the obsession causes. This movie has its problems, but Dane DeHaan is not one of them.


Con: Sophia's Guilt (-5pts)

Sophia is a very complicated character. More accurately, her feelings toward Cornelius are very complicated. On one hand, she is resentful of the fact that she was purchased to marry an older man she does not love. On the other hand, she is grateful to him for giving her a home as well as treating her with kindness. So when she falls in love with the artist, her complicated feelings, toward Cornelius, begin to boil beneath the surface.

I understand these complicated feelings but I thought the film did a poor job of conveying those feelings to the audience. For the majority of the film, Sophia's intentions seem set in stone. There is no apparent uncertainty in this character, until the end of the film. All of a sudden she changes her mind and the scene just does not work. It was brilliantly acted by Alicia Vikander but there was not enough (in the film up to this point) that supported Sophia's sudden change of heart.

When a scene has so much impact on the end of a film, the scene has to be properly supported by previous plot points. That was not the case for Sophia's Guilt in this film.

Grading Scale


Grade: C- (70pts)

This movie was barely average. It has very good actors giving very good performances, but that is where the Pros end. Alicia Vikander plays the complex emotions, of Sophia, with flawless execution. Christoph Waltz does a great job of adding depth to what, very easily, could have been a one-note antagonist. Dane DeHaan does a good job of playing a passionate artist whose passion is put to the test when he falls in love with Sophia.

Unfortunately the film has a lot of problems. Most of which, come from a lack of focus. This movie has a love triangle between Alicia Vikander, Christoph Waltz, and Dane DeHaan's characters. The film also has a romance between Cornelius' maid and a fish delivery man. The film also tells the story of the Tulip obsession during that time period. The film intertwines these three storylines while failing to give any the focus that it deserves. In a book, these stories work because a book has plenty of time to intertwine these stories while giving all of them ample focus. Condensing all three storylines makes the film feel cluttered and not properly focusing on any storyline makes the f feel shallow.

This is not a terrible movie but it is not worth your money. So I only recommend watching this film if it hits Netflix (or a premium channel you subscribe to) and you are bored.


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