The Remains of the Day (1993)

reviewed by
Alex Lopez-Ortiz

                          THE REMAINS OF THE DAY
                     A film review by Alex Lopez-Ortiz
                      Copyright 1993 Alex Lopez-Ortiz

Starring: Anthony Hopkins, Emma Thompson, James Fox, Christopher Reeve Screenplay: Ruth Prawer Jhabvala based on the novel by Kazuo Ishiguro Director: James Ivory

THE REMAINS OF THE DAY is a movie about rhythm. The plot, the performances, the photography, the characters are all about rhythm.

     Is REMAINS then a musical? Not at all. Read on!

Do you remember all those action flicks that keep you at the edge of your seat, with your heart pounding in your chest, hoping that the hero triumphs over the karate-expert heavily-armed villain?

Those movies are based in their fast paced action or as I call it, on their fast rhythm. The plot is minimal, they have mostly no character development--beyond the fact that the hero is good and the villains are bad, that is--and almost no message, again, excluding the traditional "good always wins."

     Those are the rock songs of the big screen.
     THE REMAINS OF THE DAY is a classical symphony.

Well-paced, soft, musical, Anthony Hopkins sets, with his presence, the cadences in this film.

Miss Kenton, Lord Darlington, and Mr Lewis are all musical instruments, playing to the tempo set by the director of the Orchestra, Mr Stevens. The musicality of the movie is magnificent and thoroughly enjoyable.

As with action movies, the plot is tangential, even superficial. Anybody who thinks of Great Britain's version of Plato's educated elite as a bunch of amateurs, needs to review its junior high history lessons.

The rest of THE REMAINS OF THE DAY's "insights" on English society are not much deeper than this. Even the central premise of the movie is vacuous. Englishmen would be a race long extinct if their stiff-upper-lipness were an impediment for establishing relationships. The criticisms of Mr Stevens' extreme devotion to his work cannot be anything but self-criticisms of Japanese's own devotion to work. (Recall that the author of the novel, upon which the movie is based, was written by Kazuo Ishiguro from Japan).

Nevertheless, the absence of a plot did not stop me from recommending TERMINATOR 2, and it certainly won't either with THE REMAINS OF THE DAY.

All to the contrary, THE REMAINS OF THE DAY is an excellent movie, and Anthony Hopkins performance is superb. Casting choices were most appropriate. Little can be criticized in this movie. THE REMAINS OF THE DAY is definitely in my short list for best movie of the year.

Rating: 9 out of 10
Alex Lopez-Ortiz                   
Department of Computer Science                      University of Waterloo
Waterloo, Ontario                                                   Canada

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