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1 item from 1992

'Howards End'

6 March 1992 | The Hollywood Reporter - Movie News | See recent The Hollywood Reporter - Movie News news »

NEW YORK -- From start to finish, ''Howards End'' is a sumptuous visual delight. But the beauty of this film is far more than skin deep.

Director James Ivory and producer Ismail Merchant, two names synonymous with quality, have once again turned out a production that is rich in both texture and substance.

Aided by Ruth Prawer Jhabvala's literate adaptation of E.M. Forster's novel, and the near flawless ensemble acting, ''Howards End'' is 140 minutes of cinematic bliss.

The art-house crowd is certain to be enraptured by this gem. Many of the same ingredients that made ''A Room with a View'' such a popular success are present here, though ''Howards End'' ultimately is more downbeat. Still, there is potential to gain a wider, more mainstream audience.

In light of this year's approaching telecast of the Academy Awards, it seems fitting to suggest that ''Howards End'' will most certainly garner some Oscar nominations next year, assuming voters don't forget this lovely film.

Tony Pierce-Roberts' breathtaking cinematography ascends to even greater heights in this film. The clarity and scope of each shot sets a new standard of excellence.

Enhancing each shot are the splendid actors therein. Emma Thompson is very much alive again as the indomitably spirited Margaret Schlegel. Together with sister Helen Helena Bonham Carter) and brother Tibby Adrian Ross Magenty), they raise the level of levity in stuffy old England in the early 1900s.

Through some quirks of fate, the ''exceptional'' and humble Schlegels repeatedly cross paths with the ridiculously wealthy Wilcox clan.

Though perhaps separated by class, Margaret and the sickly Wilcox matriarch, Ruth (Vanessa Redgrave), form an almost spiritual friendship. This chance, but meaningful, encounter is the catalyst for all that follows.

The differing relationships between the disparate characters, and the unique characters themselves, are all richly developed. They become so real and so alive that we don't want our relationship with them ever to end.

Redgrave, in an all-too-brief role, is wonderfully mannered and vulnerable. She is the total antithesis of her coarse character in ''The Ballad of the Sad Cafe'' (another Merchant Ivory Production), once again displaying her wide range of talent.

It is Thompson, however, who is the lifeblood of this film, and she effectively infuses the proceedings with compassion, humor and heart.

Anthony Hopkins shows admirable restraint as the repressed Henry Wilcox, whose life is indelibly changed by a heavy dose of Margaret. His initial coldness of character is a nice contrast to the glowing warmth of the Schlegels.

In masterful fashion, director Ivory methodically unveils his story. Although there are several scenes that could use an edit or two, the action flows smoothly. So much happens within each scene that Ivory proves to be a brilliant and invisible choreographer of details.


An Orion Classics Release

Director James Ivory

Writer Ruth Prawer Jhabvala

Photographer Tony Pierce-Roberts

Editor Andrew Marcus

Music Richard Robbins

Producer Ismail Merchant



Margaret Schlegel Emma Thompson

Helen Schlegel Helena Bonham Carter

Henry Wilcox Anthony Hopkins

Ruth Wilcox Vanessa Redgrave

Leonard Bast Sam West

Jacky Bast Nicola Duffett

Charles Wilcox James Wilby

Tibby Schlegel Adrian Ross Magenty

Running time -- 140 minutes

(c) The Hollywood Reporter


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