Set against the backdrop of the 17th-century Tulip Wars, a married noblewoman (Alicia Vikander-Oscar winner: The Danish Girl) has an affair with an artist (Dane DeHaan) and switches identities with her maid to escape the wealthy merchant she married. She and her lover try to raise money together by investing what little they have in the high-stakes tulip market.
Tulip Fever features an all star cast including Judi Dench, Christoph Waltz, Holliday Grainger and Zach Galafianakis. The film was written by Tom Stoppard (Shakespeare in Love) based on Deborah Mogggach's international best seller. It is directed by Justin Chadwick (The First Grader, Mandela: A Walk to Freedom and The Other Boleyn Girl).
The screenplay blends virtue and vanity, God and guilders, bulbs and blackmail. And if it's got too much of some of those elements to fit comfortably into one movie, it has still been cleverly penned — I'm picturing with actual quills — by Moggach and playwright Tom Stoppard.
New York Observer/Rex Reed
With so much to look at and a plot to digest as thick as Dutch cocoa, it is not without a few problems, but I found this astonishing movie so rich and satisfying that I liked it in spite of itself. It’s the kind of guilty pleasure that sometimes confuses, but never bores. Color it flawed but gorgeous.
The film’s production values are predictably Weinstein Company-high, and the actors—including Dench as a canny Mother Superior with her own hand in the flower game, and Jack O’Connell as an ambitious local fishmonger—are too good not to carry its promising first half. Vikander, with her creamy, endlessly expressive Vermeer face, doesn’t even need much dialogue, and she tries hard to make Sophia breathe real air.
AV Club/Jesse Hassenger
Intoxicating an audience into caring about tulip bulbs, an attractive but content-light romance, or a sexy fishmonger isn’t easy, and the movie’s attempts are more entertaining than the actual results. On that level, Tulip Fever is easier to enjoy than a lot of recent faux-Weinstein prestige pictures like The Theory Of Everything or Vikander’s The Danish Girl.
Reeling Reviews/Laura Clifford
It's all quite beautiful to look at. Vikander is stunning, DeHaan (who needs to arm wrestle Tilda Swinton should a Bowie biopic come to pass) impishly handsome. The film's production (designed by Simon Elliott, "The Book Thief") is impressive, all achieved on sets built in England. Director of Photography Eigil Bryld ("In Bruges") uses natural light for the realistically dark, rich interiors of the Dutch masters. Michael O'Connor's ("The Duchess") striking costuming effectively covers a wide range of characters in different walks of life.