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A Handful of Dust (1988)

PG  |   |  Drama, Romance  |  24 June 1988 (USA)
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Ratings: 6.7/10 from 1,394 users  
Reviews: 26 user | 13 critic

The wife's affair and a death in the family hasten the demise of an upper-class English marriage.


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Nominated for 1 Oscar. Another 4 wins & 2 nominations. See more awards »



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Cast overview, first billed only:
Tony Last
Brenda Last
Richard Beale ...
Jackson Kyle ...
John Andrew
Norman Lumsden ...
Jeanne Watts ...
Kate Percival ...
Miss Ripon
Richard Leech ...
Roger Milner ...
Tristram Jellinek ...
Richard Last
Mrs. Rattery
John Beaver
Mrs. Beaver


We see the detritus of an abandoned camp in South America and a main character's hallucination. Then, the story beings. Tony and Brenda Last, lord and lady, live on his enormous estate with their young son. Tony's not much for parties, and Brenda joins London society, on the arm of a penniless man, John Beaver, a hanger-on at Tony's club. John is encouraged by his entrepreneurial mother, who sees a quid in Tony and Brenda. Brenda and John become lovers, Brenda spends more and more time in London, and Tony's without a clue. Then, bringing things to a head are tragedy, law suits, greed, and what should be a few-months' expedition to Brazil. We are each of us merely a handful of dust. Written by <>

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis


Drama | Romance


PG | See all certifications »




Release Date:

24 June 1988 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Evelyn Waugh's A Handful of Dust  »

Box Office


$1,560,700 (USA)

Company Credits

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs

Sound Mix:



Aspect Ratio:

1.66 : 1
See  »

Did You Know?


The second of two 1980s British period films with the word "dust" in the title the first having been Merchant Ivory's Heat and Dust (1983) around five years earlier. See more »


Referenced in The Benchwarmers (2006) See more »


King Of Love My Shepherd Is
Traditional Irish melody
Words by Henry W. Baker (1868)
See more »

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User Reviews

Oh my god - did they even see the same film as me?!
6 July 2002 | by (Melbourne Australia) – See all my reviews

My personal opinion is that the acting in this film is brilliant and Evelyn Waugh would have been proud! It's true that the humour in the book has been toned down but everything else is there. And as for the acting - just witness Kristin Scott Thomas' amazing performance running the gammut of emotions all at once when she realises it isn't her lover but her son who has died. First there is fear, then relief, then guilt at her relief. Also James Wilby portraying a father dealing with grief yet trying to maintain the British stiff-upper lip. This is what real acting is about. Brilliant stuff. Now all we need is a decent DVD release. The German British import is a travesty with poor sound, the wrong aspect ratio, and a battered source print. Very sad.

8 of 13 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you?

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THE NEWS OF JOHN'S DEATH. national_bouton-1
Gosh I really hated Brenda Last , what a horrible human being FlorenceLawrence
Handful of Dust bebold
DVD Quality vexata
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