THE REMAINS OF THE DAY A film review by Jean Krevor Copyright 1993 Jean Krevor
Once again, your non-critical previewer has seen something so worthwhile that she felt compelled to tell y'all about it. This time the film is THE REMAINS OF THE DAY. I'm not sure when it opens, but when it does, *see it*!!!
It stars Anthony Hopkins as Stevens, the "perfect English Butler"; Emma Thompson as Miss Kenton, the housekeeper; Christopher Reeve as Senator Lewis, the new owner of the estate where Stevens "buttles"; Peter Vaughan as Stevens Sr.; and James Fox as Lord Darlington, the original (during Stevens' time there) Lord of the Estate.
The film opens in 1958, and Stevens is embarking in a journey across England. He is the "perfect English Butler," now employed by Mr. Lewis, the new American owner of Darlington Hall, where Stevens has spent the best part of his working life. In the course of his trip, through many breathtaking flashback sequences, Stevens reviews his life in service to Lord Darlington, the former owner of Darlington Hall, and what it was like to be in the middle of political intrigue, relationships, and day to day life in the 1930s, while being completely in blinders.
That's all I can really say about the plot without spoiling the film for you. I assure you that it is quite worthwhile, and should be in the running for Best Picture this year. It was written by Kazuo Ishiguro (! surprised me too!), and the novel THE REMAINS OF THE DAY won the 1989 Booker Prize.
Most of the other crew on this film are also known for their work on such films as A ROOM WITH A VIEW, MR. AND MRS. BRIDGE, and HOWARDS END.
The costumes are lovely. Being circa 1930s, they are not too far off from what we'd see today in formal wear, and are absolutely exquisite.
Oh, the director is James Ivory, known for the above mentioned films, as well as THE BOSTONIANS (also with Christopher Reeve), MAURICE, and SLAVES OF NEW YORK. He is currently working on a film about Thomas Jefferson's Paris years as American Ambassador, starring Nick Nolte and Greta Scacchi. Filming begins in March 1994.
In writing about this film I would be remiss if I didn't mention the absolutely spectacular location work. While the film was about one location, many different British estates were used in the filming.
The exteriors were shot at Dyrham Park; built around the turn of the 18th century for a minister of William III, the mansion stands in a valley, with fields and gardens and winding roads as far as the eye can see.
Many of the interior shots were filmed at Powderham Castle, near Exeter. This castle has been the seat of the Courtenays, Earls of Devon, for over 600 years. Here, they used the staircase hall (I wish my *apartment* was as large and luxurious as this "hall"!), the Music room, the Library (pant, pant, pant, ...) the "Ante room," and the State bedroom, a place where I'm sure I could spend many a dreamy night....
Other locations included Corsham Court in Wiltshire, today the home of Lord Methuen. Here they filmed the picture gallery, another lust-worthy library, and the dining room--oh wow ... but I digress!
The scenes in the servants' quarters were shot at Badminton House in Gloucestershire, the seat of the Dukes of Beaufort. As much of the film takes place "below stairs," this location was quite important. It was difficult to find, as the lifestyle required in these manor houses has become quite impossible to maintain for all but the most affluent nobility. Many of the "Backstairs" sections of English country houses have been converted to restaurants, museum shops, flats for the custodians. Badminton is still a "living" house, however, the present Duke and his family do live far more simply than their predecessors. The servants' quarters remain as they were, although are largely unoccupied. It is interesting to note that it was much more difficult to find these locations--kitchen, servants hall, Butler's pantry, scullery, etc.---than to find the magnificent state rooms.
Anthony Hopkins delivers a sterling performance, and if he doesn't at least get nominated for the Oscar, I'll be quite surprised. Emma Thompson is lovely as usual, and considering that her role spans 30 years, is quite believable both as a 20 year old and a 50 year old. Kudos to the makeup people, the aging is done both believably and tastefully.
All in all, *thumbs up*!!! See it! As soon as I find out when it opens, I'll post dates and theater. Sorry for the length of this, but I hope I was informative!
Regards to all---this is your non-critical critic signing off..
Oh, yes, I nearly forgot--disclaimer time: I'm not a professional critic (could you tell? :-) and I do not receive any remuneration for my commentary. These opinions are mine and mine alone, although you are quite welcome to share them!
Jean Krevor (email@example.com)
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