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I have enjoyed 'A Room with a View' since it arrived on the scene in
1985. I have watched it many times and the video is wearing out and I
fully intend to get the DVD of it soon. I saw it again the other night
and am still charmed by it, in fact, I enjoyed it more than ever. Yes,
it's a costume drama under glass, but it's a very well-done example of
that popular genre. Films like this are greatly appealing to people
like me who yearn for a gentler society and manners, though without the
uptight staidness as exemplified by Aunt Charlotte (Maggie Smith) and
Cecil Vyse (Daniel Day-Lewis). So this movie falls under the category
of "comfort" film for me, and it is one of the very best.
Often Merchant/Ivory productions ring false ('Remains of the Day', for example), when they attempt to make a political statement; in that case regarding the under-current in Britain that led to the surprisingly popular British Union of Fascists created by Sir Oswald Mosley prior to WW2. But when James Ivory and his team stick to romance and the pretty manners of Edwardians, they are hard to beat.
Of the performers, Julian Sands seems the most "improved" in my opinion from earlier viewings. He is wonderful as the Byronic lover and has a ton of chemistry with Helena Bonham-Carter's lovely, spicey Lucy Honeychurch. Daniel Day-Lewis's Cecil Vyse seems a bit more contrived as time passes but is in the end a touching portrayal of a type of man that I despise.
There isn't weak link in the entire cast. The Puccini arias and Beethoven piano sonatas are beautiful and enhance the story. The photography is gorgeous and the other technical aspects are flawless.
This is the pinnacle of Merchant/Ivory films, I cannot imagine them producing anything better in the future, but who knows. They do seem to be in a cultural rut now, however.
The fringe film crowd will probably descry this sort of populist cinema, but I think that is narrow-minded snobbery, as boorish as Cecil Vyse and his insufferable intolerance to "the plebians."
No disrespect to the achingly elegant prose of E.M. Forster, but the last chapter of his novel simply cannot compare to this film's last shot, of a pair of lovers in a pensione in Florence, finally with their view of the Arno. As for the rest of this brilliant adaptation, it is populated with actors so perfectly cast it's as if they'd been invented for the roles-- Julian Sands as the Edwardian bohemian George Emerson, Helena Bonham-Carter, radiant as Lucy Honeychurch, Denholm Elliott, once again stealing every scene he's in, and Daniel Day-Lewis as the priggish Cecil Vyse, in a performance so self-consciously stiff he looks as though he were taken off the cover of the New Yorker. It's romantic, funny, stylish and impassioned. I first saw this film when it was released, and even at a young age, I knew I'd fallen in love. Twenty years later, I'm still in love with it.
A Room with a View possesses a fabulous cast, beautiful cinematography, an
awesome adapted script, and a tale of oppressed desire during the paradigm
shift from the repressive Victorian age to the more liberal Edwardian time.
The film moves at a deliberate pace of country strolls and carriage rides
filling the viewer with literary awakenings and music compositions. Poppies,
barley, and Florence architecture decorate the screen.
The film is witty if anything with carefree individuals roaming about with leisure on their minds. Pure love and desire aches throughout and Italy is the place to bring the lovers together.
It is a handsome picture. Detailed period pieces and costumes. The cast is phenomenal! Helena Bohnam Carter portrays the peevish Lucy Honeychurch on her way to becoming her prudish Cousin and chaperone, Charlotte Bartlett (The Great Maggie Smith.) However The spirit of Italy will prevent such an occurrence and fill Miss Honeychurch with pure desire for George, the man who was brought up from the evils and hate of the world.
The adaptation is superb. Fun. It is a film to live in and swim in the sacred lake. One of the best films of the 80's. Terrific!
"A Room with a View" is one of the best-known Merchant-Ivory films, the
one that made their reputation for tastefully adapting Edwardian
novels. Working from E. M. Forster's charming story, Merchant and Ivory
add gorgeous Tuscan cinematography, lush opera music, and a cast of
talented British actors. Even a skinny-dipping scene is done with
enough class that the movie got away with a PG rating (though that
probably wouldn't happen nowadays!). In short, Merchant-Ivory makes it
look easyand this ease has led to charges of their films being dull
and middlebrow, as well as to many imitators.
But this stereotype of "a Merchant-Ivory film" fails to mention just how vivid and hilarious "A Room with a View" actually is. With scene-stealing actors like Maggie Smith as a prim, passive-aggressive chaperone and Daniel Day-Lewis as a self-centered young man whose every gesture tells of his fastidious rigidity, a rich vein of humor runs through the film. The movie also delights in putting its heroine Lucy (a baby-faced Helena Bonham Carter) in situations that prove awkward, funny, and ultimately invigorating for a well-bred young lady of 1905. Lucy finds herself in a love triangle, with society telling her to choose Cecil (Day- Lewis) but a deeper force pulling her toward the unconventional, moody George Emerson (Julian Sands).
A comedy of manners, "A Room with a View" is sometimes guilty of seeing its characters as types, rather than people. Even Lucy is not much more than "the young girl transfigured by Italy" that Miss Lavish (Judi Dench), a writer of cheap novels, labels her as. Still, it's easy to get caught up in the romance of this delightful movie. After seeing it, you'll want to go out and defend Truth and Love from all those who would deny them. Or at least to start saving up for a trip to Italy.
This movie made me go to Florence, Italy. And once I got there, they actually showed it every other night at the pensione I stayed in. Though set in Victorian times, it is reminiscent of a Jane Austen novel- romantic and humorous, but more passionate. Characters are lovingly made fun of. The acting is wonderful. People you've seen elsewhere, but in unusual roles. Helena Bonham Carter is the confused heroine, Maggie Smith plays her passive-aggressive aunt, you won't believe it's Daniel Day-Lewis playing the most irritating pompous man, Judi Dench is a gossipy romance novelist, Julian Sands is adorably weird, and the supporting characters are also wonderful. It's one of favorites.
This movie remains one of my favorites of all time. The acting is extremely pro. A case in point, I didn't realize for 5 years after first seeing the movie that Daniel Day Lewis was "Cecil Vyse". That's acting! "Lucy Honeychurch" (well played by Helena Bonham-Carter) embodies the struggle that most people must face at the beginning of their adult lives. Whether to listen to their own voice or the voice of others. Choosing one or the other can severely change the course of one's life. "George Emerson" as perfectly captured by Julian Sands, is the perfect man that most hope to find in their lifetime and we all push for "Lucy" to realize this. The supporting performances by the veteran cast that include Maggie Smith, Judi Dench, Denholm Elliot, Simon Callow (the wonderful Reverend Beebe) equally are brilliant. Well done!
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
A lot of people expect this adaption of EM Forster's A Room with a View to be a stuffy costume drama. They see actors in period dress and are not interested. What those people are missing out on is a very funny, contemporary, subtle, well-acted and insightful film. This is as good an adaption from literature to film as I've ever seen. The tale of a group of English tourists to Italy and how their experiences change them is a stunning satire of Victorian social norms without losing sight of the charm of the individual characters. Fantastic.
Merchant-Ivory always do a good job. Their films are not only stunning visually, but they evoke an emotional response. A Room with a View is superficially a love story. and I hate to admit it kind of stays there. But they stick to the books. Having read the respective, Howard's End, and a Passage to India, I can truly say they adhere to what has been written. But the books are completely about what you read between the lines. E.M Forester was pretty disgusted by his culture. Yet it was his....and he loved it.......because it provided itself with misfits...i.e Lucy and her beau. He was an echo of Oscar Wilde. I think if you look very hard into this movie you will see that. Denholm Elliot is the epitome of an englishman who isn't an englishman. and he is the complete opposite of Mrs. Vyse....his opposing character. Even the vicar isn't what he supposed to be. Nude Bathing (Oh my Goodness) and in praise of passion he is a free spirit. I think anyone who can say bad about his movie has issues. Yes, its main-stream international. But its beautiful.
This movie is completely beautiful and always fascinating to watch. Each
actor does great work, with Maggie Smith (as usual) being the most
memorable. Her nomination was deserved, but where was one for Daniel
Day-Lewis? I thought he was more memorable than Denholm Elliot, who was
nominated. This movie is one to own and take out to enjoy when the mood
Best line - "Because she IS Charlotte Bartlett"!
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
"A Room with a View" is certainly a film rarity, in that this
adaptation fully lives up to an expectations set by E.M. Forster's
classic novel. The film is set during the Edwardian period, a time
marked by the replacing of Victorian ways with more liberal ideals.
This idea is personified by the static characters of freethinking
George Emerson (Julian Sands) and prudish Cecil Vyse (Daniel Day
Lewis). Between these two extremes, we find our heroine Lucy
Honeychurch (Helena Bonham-Carter), a young woman with a zest for life,
but unsure of exactly what to do with it. In referencing her skills at
the piano, one character puts it quite nicely, "If Miss Honeychurch
ever takes to live as she plays, it will be very exciting- both for us
and her." It proves to be exciting for the audience too, as we watch
her coming of age through fascinating interactions with both fiancée
Cecil, and George, the young man she meets while abroad in Italy.
It certainly doesn't hurt that these interactions are staged against some of the most beautiful scenery ever seen on the screen. Watching segments of the film with no sound could serve as an effective travelogue for Florence, Italy or Surrey, England. Of course that is just an added bonus, as it is Forster's characters who make the film come so alive. In addition to the three points of the love triangle, veteran actors such as Judi Dench, Denholm Elliot, and Maggie Smith give such performances that upon rereading the novel, I suspect it would be an impossible task to imagine these characters any other way. In addition to the perfect ensemble cast, directing/producing team Ismail Merchant and James Ivory give absolute proficiency to their adaptation of the novel. All the right scenes are there. (We forgive them for a slight alteration to the classic "kiss in field of violets" scene, as violets were not in season during production.) Dialogue is taken directly from the pages of the novel. And they show boldness in their unrestrained filming of a playful skinny-dipping sequence. I suppose it would be hypocritical to shoot a scene lampooning repression in a repressed manner, however.
The basic story of "A Room with a View" is one which may have been told before, but like that special parent or teacher we all had growing up, this film tells that story better than anyone else could ever hope to. Its characters, their sensibilities, and their nuances enchant us. The entire production is a shining example of period film-making and the finished product is one worthy of repeated viewings. It truly gets better each time you see it. You'll notice more too. For instance, pay attention to Lucy's love scenes with her two men, particularly what transpires and whether they take place in or out of doors. It is a testament to the adapters, that other such literary elements from the novel remain intact here. In short, Forster laid the blueprint from which these filmmakers built a tour de force.
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