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The Reef (1999)

Set in early 1900s France, a widow renews a former romantic interest, until it is discovered that he has had a past fling with one of her new employees, a nanny. This sets the two women ... See full summary »


Edith Wharton (book), William Hanley (teleplay)


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Complete credited cast:
Sela Ward ... Anna Leath
Timothy Dalton ... Charles Darrow
Alicia Witt ... Sophy Viner
Jamie Glover ... Owen Leath
Cynthia Harris ... Adelaide
Leslie Caron ... Regine De Chantelle
Hannah Taylor Gordon ... Effie Leath
Rupert Frazer Rupert Frazer ... Mr. Farlow
Jane Bertish Jane Bertish ... Mrs. Farlow
Robert Russell Robert Russell ... Messenger
Lori Wyant Lori Wyant ... Embassy Secretary
Marcos Márquez Marcos Márquez ... Hotel Concierge (as Marcos Marquez)


Set in early 1900s France, a widow renews a former romantic interest, until it is discovered that he has had a past fling with one of her new employees, a nanny. This sets the two women into many well-mannered accusations and conversations, but no modern brawling, and puts him in the middle, or possibly on the outside. Written by John Sacksteder <jsack@jka.net>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


They tried to forget about each other but their love would forever remind them.


Drama | Romance


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USA | Germany



Release Date:

25 July 1999 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

Das Riff See more »

Filming Locations:

Prague, Czech Republic

Company Credits

Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:




Aspect Ratio:

1.33 : 1
See full technical specs »

Did You Know?


Filmed in 1996, but not broadcast until 1999. See more »


Sophy Viner: [to Charles Darrow] The truth will endanger your own engagement to Mrs Leath. Possibly destroy it altogether. Yes, Owen told me. How could you and she live in my constant presence as Owen's wife if she were to know the truth of our past together?
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User Reviews

Edith Wharton spoilt
11 February 2012 | by callalou1See all my reviews

I suppose that to even attempt to enjoy this 'made for TV' production, a knowledge of Edith Wharton's works and the novel way in which she thought, given the age in which she lived, would be a great advantage. Then, if that knowledge was a given, Passion's Way, or The Reef (her novel) might have worked well had it been a British production and not an American one. The cast is OK with the exception of Timothy Dalton who plays Charles Darrow and cannot decide whether to be an American or an Englishman as his accent drifts from one side of the Atlantic to the other. For the rest, the production is very much let down by careless attention to detail. It is often the case in American productions that approximations of geographical locations are deemed to suffice and, whilst that might fool an American audience, it will not cut the mustard with the inhabitants of Europe who know full well their Paris from their Prague. These shortcomings were evident from the first few moments of the film. The novel (and this movie) explores the harm that is done when an unwise action causes ripples to spread out from it like a stone dropped in the middle of a pond, creating chaos for those who are innocently caught up in its maelstrom. This production really fails to convey that which is a pity. It does no justice to Edith Wharton's writing at all.

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