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City of Your Final Destination

The City of Your Final Destination

Director: James Ivory, Omar Metwally, Anthony Hopkins, Laura Linney

Cast: James Ivory, Omar Metwally, Anthony Hopkins, Laura Linney


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Historically noteworthy as the first Merchant Ivory production that lacked the involvement of longtime producer Ismail Merchant (he died three years prior to this movie's release), director James Ivory's The City of Your Final Destination embodies an adaptation of Peter Cameron's 2005 novel of the same name, written for the


Historically noteworthy as the first Merchant Ivory production that lacked the involvement of longtime producer Ismail Merchant (he died three years prior to this movie's release), director James Ivory's The City of Your Final Destination embodies an adaptation of Peter Cameron's 2005 novel of the same name, written for the screen by Ruth Prawer Jhabvala. Omar Metwally stars as Omar Razaghi, a young graduate student in the U.S. who wishes to author a biography on the late Jules Gund -- an enigmatic writer who spent his final years with his family in Uruguay, then committed suicide. Omar writes the Gund clan to request permission to pen the text, but is shocked and baffled by the family's refusal to comply. At the urging of Omar's forceful girlfriend, Dierdre (Alexandra Maria Lara), Omar books a seat about the next flight to Uruguay, visits the Gund enclave, and tries to persuade them to change their minds. Present are Gund's gay twin brother Adam (Anthony Hopkins), his widow Caroline (Laura Linney), his mistress Arden (Charlotte Gainsbourg), and his young daughter by Arden, Portia (Ambar Mallman). Omar works on the family members one by one, but runs into extreme difficulty both with Caroline -- a hateful woman bearing deep-seated resentments, who initially refuses to comply with the project at all costs -- and with Adam, who agrees to participate on the condition that Omar perform a dangerous favor in return. Meanwhile, passions begin to stir between Omar and Arden, and Dierdre decides to pay a visit. Unfortunately, The City of Your Final Destination received severely limited theatrical distribution, and failed to make much of a splash at the box office, despite favorable notices from a number of U.S. critics and Ivory's excellent track record.

Editorial Reviews

All Movie Guide - Nathan Southern
James Ivory's contemporary drama The City of Your Final Destination, which longtime Merchant-Ivory collaborator Ruth Prawer Jhabvala adapted from the 2002 novel by American author Peter Cameron, constitutes a wonderful achievement on all levels. It's the tale of Omar Razaghi (Omar Metwally), a young Iranian-American literature professor who has banked a university fellowship and his entire career on his plans to write the premier biography on the late Uruguayan writer Jules Gund, not long after that author's suicide. As the film opens, Razaghi receives an inexplicable letter from Gund's extended family, refusing to grant him permission to move forward with the project. Deeply confused, and aware of the extent of his losses should the project collapse, Omar books a flight to Montevideo, travels to the Gunds' sprawling bohemian enclave, and tries to persuade several members of the clan -- including Jules' younger brother, Adam (Anthony Hopkins), his widow, Caroline (Laura Linney), and mistress, Arden (Charlotte Gainsbourg) -- to retract the initial decision. The film deftly interweaves and develops several fascinating thematic threads. At the outset, it brazenly declares itself as a study in various shades of control and submission. With an acute eye, Ivory and Jhabvala begin their story in the States, by observing the deeply dysfunctional relationship between Omar and girlfriend Deirdre (a terrific Alexandra Maria Lara), a young woman so shrewish and emotionally domineering that she scarcely gives the passive Omar room to breathe. Indeed, as one character points out late in the film, everything seems to point to the fact that the Gund biography is her brainchild and not Omar's. We sense all along that Omar exists on a short leash, bound by Deirdre's whims; when he attempts to win each family member over to his side, he does so via on-the-nose requests that feel entirely credible in their transparency given the marked lack of conviction behind them. The script sets up an uncanny parallel between our initial impressions of Deirdre and (once the action moves to Uruguay) the ice-water-veined Caroline, who likewise thrives on power and domination, to the extent that she seems as responsible for the rejection of the biography idea as Deirdre was for initiating it. Jhabvala simultaneously contrasts Caroline's control-happy nature with the sincere and quiet submissiveness of Arden, and the palpable but non-malicious machinations of Adam, who attempts to use Omar for his own quiet aims. Jhabvala's script tantalizes by giving us little insights into the family that invite further deduction on our parts -- such as Adam's slightly bitter recollection that his brother grew fond of tearing the wings off of butterflies, or Caroline's calculated extraction of information about Omar's love life, which she spins around, inflates, and enlists to suit her own Machiavellian purposes in an ensuing scene. Jhabvala's deliberate semi-obliqueness in these and many other sequences -- her refusal to offer a completely transparent window into the behavior of any one family member -- represents a highly mature decision, for several reasons: it invests enormous credibility into the film, given the notoriously guarded nature of many aristocratic families; it keeps the material intriguing; and on the broadest level, because the story's real focus lies not on the clan itself but on Omar. The central thrust of the tale, in fact, involves Omar's inner healing via exposure to the Gunds and their South American surroundings. The filmmakers create a wonderfully delicate love story that develops between Omar and the temperamentally similar Arden. For much of the film's running time, this romance exists just under the surface of the material (slightly buried and unspoken), but as it emerges gradually, it manages to be as persuasive as anything in recent American movies -- and Gainsbourg implies such vulnerability and need that she gives the story its emotional center. The filmmakers use the romance as the basis for Omar's coming into his own as a person, an indelibly positive shift in the direction of his life -- a shift directly challenged by both Caroline and by Deirdre when the latter unexpectedly turns up at the Gunds' estate late in the film. This makes the events that follow as fascinating and gripping as they are exhilarating.

Product Details

Release Date:
Original Release:
Screen Media
Region Code:
[Wide Screen]
[Dolby AC-3 Surround Sound]
Sales rank:

Special Features

Making Of Film; Director's Comments

Related Subjects

Cast & Crew

Performance Credits
Omar Metwally Omar Razaghi
Anthony Hopkins Adam Gund
Laura Linney Caroline Gund
Charlotte Gainsbourg Arden Langdon
Hiroyuki Sanada Pete
Alexandra Maria Lara Dierdre
Norma Aleandro Mrs. Van Euwen
Ambar Mallman Portia
Norma Argentina Alma
Luciano Suardi Doctor Pereira

Technical Credits
James Ivory Director
Javier Aguirresarobe Cinematographer
John David Allen Editor
Ashok Amritraj Executive Producer
Paul Bradley Producer
Jorge Drexler Score Composer
Ruth Prawer Jhabvala Screenwriter
Vincent Mai Executive Producer
James Martin Executive Producer
Pierre Proner Producer
Carol Ramsey Costumes/Costume Designer
Andrew Sanders Production Designer
Katsuhiko Yoshida Executive Producer

Scene Index

Disc #1 -- City of Your Final Destination
1. Scene 1 [7:04]
2. Scene 2 [6:34]
3. Scene 3 [6:21]
4. Scene 4 [9:04]
5. Scene 5 [8:47]
6. Scene 6 [6:43]
7. Scene 7 [6:11]
8. Scene 8 [6:41]
9. Scene 9 [5:49]
10. Scene 10 [5:17]
11. Scene 11 [7:04]
12. Scene 12 [4:41]
13. Scene 13 [3:49]
14. Scene 14 [11:32]
15. Scene 15 [6:59]
16. Scene 16 [10:20]

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