Two literary scholars in London (Aaron Eckhart, Gwyneth Paltrow) investigate a suspected affair between two Victorian poets (Jeremy Northam, Jennifer Ehle)—all the while becoming more and more attracted to each other. The film is glossy but unsatisfying. David Henry Hwang’s script (from A.S. Byatt’s novel) moves smoothly between past and present at first, but over time the past becomes more interesting, the present more disjointed. One problem is Eckhart’s slovenly pretty-boy look: he makes an unconvincing scholar and an unappealing lover and has little chemistry with Paltrow; when he begins professing affection for her it rings false. Northam and Ehle, on the other hand, have real chemistry, and they end up taking over the story by default. Neil LaBute’s direction is cursory and only half-interested.