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Merchant Ivory Productions has just completed post-production on their new film, The City of your Final Destination . The film, in English and Spanish, is based on the 2002 novel of the same name by Peter Cameron. It brings director James Ivory together again with Anthony Hopkins. Also in starring roles are Laura Linney, Charlotte Gainsbourg, Omar Metwally, and Alexandra Maria Lara, as well as the Argentinean actress Norma Aleandro, and Hiroyuki Sanada, the enigmatic spy from Ivory's last film, The White Countess.

Ivory's long-time collaborator Ruth Jhabvala has written the screenplay, John David Allen has edited the film, and Javier Aguirresarobe is the cinematographer. Two of Ivory's favorite designers, the art director Andrew Sanders, and costume designer Carol Ramsey, also worked on the film, which was shot in Argentina's pampas. For the film's musical score, Merchant Ivory approached Jorge Drexler, whose Academy Award-winning song from The Motorcycle Diaries won the Oscar for Best Song in 2006.

The City of your Final Destination was produced by Paul Bradley and Pierre Proner. The story is about a young American academic, Omar Razaghi (Metwally), who attempts to persuade the reluctant heirs of a celebrated Uruguayan novelist, Jules Gund, to allow him to write an authorized biography of the writer, who has recently died. Undeterred by the executors' adamant refusal, and urged on by his vehemently ambitious girlfriend (Lara), another academic, Razaghi turns up uninvited on the family's doorstep in a remote corner of Uruguay, hoping to change their minds. Before long, he is joined there by his super-efficient girlfriend, Deirdre.

The Gund family, living in two big rundown houses on an overgrown, steamy estancia named "Ocho Rios," reacts to the intrusion in different ways. The writer's widow Caroline Gund (an unusually acerbic Laura Linney) stubbornly states with every breath that she will never, never give her permission. The writer's brother Adam Gund (Hopkins) has a contrary opinion: a biography can only help to keep the writer's name before a book-buying public. The writer's young mistress Arden Langdon (Gainsbourg) at sides with Caroline. Then, as she begins to fall for Omar -- or is she succumbing only to the charm of someone, anyone, new? -- she changes her mind. Two furtther supporters of Omar are Gund's ten-year-old daughter Portia, and Pete, Adam's practical-minded companion (Sanada).

How Omar comes in time to have his wish granted, and the effect of that on his future, makes up the plot of this film about the random nature of love and the ways in which we avoid or confront life's choices.
 
"The City of Your Final Destination" is as pure an example of the Merchant Ivory brand of upscale literary cinema as devotees of "Howards End," "A Room With a View" and "The Remains of the Day" could ask for. - Stephen Holden, New York Times
 
This movie is a triumph. - Rex Reed, New York Observer
 
James Ivory and cast make every scene flutter with feeling in this adaptation of Peter Cameron's 2002 novel, written for the screen by Ivory's collaborator-of-50-years, Ruth Prawer Jhabvala. - Nick Pinkerton, Village Voice

 

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