MOVIEmeter
SEE RANK
Up 13,786 this week

A Handful of Dust (1988)

PG  |   |  Drama, Romance  |  24 June 1988 (USA)
6.8
Your rating:
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 -/10 X  
Ratings: 6.8/10 from 1,373 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.

Director:

0Check in
0Share...

Watch Now

From $9.99 on Amazon Instant Video

ON DISC

IMDb Picks: August

Visit our IMDb Picks section to see our recommendations of movies and TV shows coming out in August.

Visit the IMDb Picks section

User Lists

Related lists from IMDb users

a list of 23 titles
created 09 Oct 2011
 
a list of 34 titles
created 11 Aug 2012
 
a list of 55 titles
created 22 Sep 2012
 
a list of 37 titles
created 10 Oct 2013
 
a list of 31 titles
created 4 months ago
 

Related Items

Connect with IMDb


Share this Rating

Title: A Handful of Dust (1988)

A Handful of Dust (1988) on IMDb 6.8/10

Want to share IMDb's rating on your own site? Use the HTML below.

Take The Quiz!

Test your knowledge of A Handful of Dust.
Nominated for 1 Oscar. Another 4 wins & 2 nominations. See more awards »

Videos

Photos

Learn more

People who liked this also liked... 

Agent trouble (1987)
Thriller
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.2/10 X  

Amanda Weber is a museum employee. Her nephew, Victorien, who feels that wild animals should not be kept in zoos, has been murdered, and she seeks to find out why and how. She knows that ... See full summary »

Director: Jean-Pierre Mocky
Stars: Catherine Deneuve, Richard Bohringer, Tom Novembre
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.6/10 X  
Director: Jean-François Amiguet
Stars: Jérôme Anger, Kristin Scott Thomas, Sylvie Orcier
Drama | Romance | War
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.4/10 X  

In 1925 Romania, young Marie-Therese Von Debretsy refuses the flirtatious advances of her husband's commanding officer. As a result, the cosmopolitan family is reassigned to a brutally ... See full summary »

Director: Lucian Pintilie
Stars: Kristin Scott Thomas, Claudiu Bleont, Olga Tudorache
Drama | Romance
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.6/10 X  

After a rich Edwardian widow impulsively marries a handsome but poor Tuscan dentist and dies in childbirth, her English in-laws try to gain custody of the baby.

Director: Charles Sturridge
Stars: Helena Bonham Carter, Judy Davis, Rupert Graves
Drama
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.8/10 X  
Director: Gavin Millar
Stars: Judi Dench, Ian Holm, Rachel Gurney
Maurice (1987)
Drama | Romance
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.8/10 X  

After his lover rejects him, a young man trapped by the oppressiveness of Edwardian society tries to come to terms with and accept his sexuality.

Director: James Ivory
Stars: James Wilby, Rupert Graves, Hugh Grant
Little Dorrit (1987)
Drama | Romance
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.6/10 X  

Arthur Clennam returns to London after working abroad for many years with his now deceased father. Almost at once he becomes involved in the problems of his mother's seamstress Amy Dorrit ... See full summary »

Director: Christine Edzard
Stars: Derek Jacobi, Alec Guinness, Joan Greenwood
Dead Cert (1974)
Thriller | Drama
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 5.1/10 X  

As a surprise, two horse owners decide to ride their animals themselves in a steeplechase. But Bill Davidson's horse "Admiral" behaves weirdly, and falls hard after an obstacle. Bill dies ... See full summary »

Director: Tony Richardson
Stars: Scott Antony, Judi Dench, Michael Williams
Luther (1974)
Biography | Drama
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.8/10 X  

A man's view cause a rift between peasants and the church.

Director: Guy Green
Stars: Stacy Keach, Patrick Magee, Hugh Griffith
Interview Day (TV Movie 1996)
Comedy | Drama
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.8/10 X  

Comedy drama about the trials and tribulations of three sets of parents as they finally realise that their children have grown up and reluctantly they have to let them enroll at Cambridge ... See full summary »

Director: Piers Haggard
Stars: Maureen Lipman, David Ross, Benedict Sandiford
The Bachelor (1990)
Drama
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.9/10 X  

A Pre-World War I physician in Austria struggles with his decision about which woman he will marry. Miranda Richardson plays the roles of two different women in his life.

Director: Roberto Faenza
Stars: Keith Carradine, Miranda Richardson, Kristin Scott Thomas
Good to Go (1986)
Musical | Drama
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 4.4/10 X  

A journalist framed on a rape and murder charge must prove his innocence by finding the real killer.

Director: Blaine Novak
Stars: Art Garfunkel, Robert DoQui, Harris Yulin
Edit

Cast

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

Storyline

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 <jhailey@hotmail.com>

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis

Genres:

Drama | Romance

Certificate:

PG | See all certifications »
Edit

Details

Country:

Language:

Release Date:

24 June 1988 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Evelyn Waugh's A Handful of Dust  »

Box Office

Gross:

$1,560,700 (USA)
 »

Company Credits

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs

Sound Mix:

Color:

(Fujicolor)

Aspect Ratio:

1.66 : 1
See  »
Edit

Did You Know?

Trivia

The Duke of Norfolk let his home be used and appeared as the gardener touching his forelock respectfully to Mrs. Ratterby (Anjelica Huston). See more »

Connections

Referenced in The Benchwarmers (2006) See more »

Soundtracks

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

Frequently Asked Questions

This FAQ is empty. Add the first question.

User Reviews

Fair adaptation, but a watered-down result
17 March 2002 | by (Sydney, Australia) – See all my reviews

WARNING: POSSIBLE SPOILER

Evelyn Waugh was one of the most stylish writers of his generation and the deceptively simple prose of his early mordant satires ('Decline and Fall', 'Vile Bodies') stands up very well today. 'A Handful of Dust,' written during the break-up of his first marriage to Evelyn Gardiner ('She-Evelyn') is more personal and less comic, and more concerned with the consequences of the characters' lack of personal morality. This film version by Charles Sturridge, who was earlier jointly responsible for a fine TV version of 'Brideshead Revisited,' is a worthy attempt to do justice to the novel, but perhaps he need not have bothered.

The film follows the novel as published in England – a US edition had a different, happy ending - though for space reasons some incidents are omitted (eg the drunken night at the sleazy 'Old Hundredth' club). Tony Last (James Wilby) is a pleasant young dim Tory gentleman, the proud owner of Hetton Abbey, a pile of Victorian Gothic bombast, and the attentive but slightly baffled husband of Lady Brenda (Kristen Scott-Thomas), elegant, aristocratic, and bored to death after seven years of country life. They have a cute six-year old son, John Andrew (Jackson Kyle), who seems to relate better to his nanny and riding instructor than to his parents, who are equally awkward with him. A young man called John Beaver (Rupert Graves) invites himself to stay, and Brenda, despite Beaver's vacuity, decides to have an affair with him, renting a small flat in Mayfair from Beaver's mother (Judi Dench) for the purpose.

Then an accident occurs which prompts Brenda to reveal her affair to Tony (almost everyone else in their circle knows of it already) and leave him. Tony, having met an explorer named Messinger, sets off with him to Guyana, South America, in search of a lost city, but the expedition falls apart and Tony is rescued by Todd (Alec Guinness), a part-white man living with the Indians. Todd wants someone to read him Dickens, and Tony finds himself a prisoner.

The re-creation of life at Hetton; mists over the park, the huge, overdecorated house (Carlton Towers, Yorkshire, is a perfect match for the fictional Hetton Abbey), the attentive servants, the elegant meals, house parties, Sunday morning at church, the ritual of foxhunting etc, is all beautifully done. We see why Brenda is bored (even if Anjelica Huston's character does drop in by plane), but it is not so easy to see why Brenda takes after Beaver. Jock (a wooden Pip Torrens), young MP, friend of the family and an old boyfriend of Brenda's, seems a much more likely choice, obsessed as he is with the politics of pig-farming. Kristen Scott-Thomas is fine in the role of Brenda but the script lets her down a little. As Tony, James Wilby projects just the right air of amiable, good-natured dimness. We feel sorry for him even as his unlikely fate assumes an air of inevitability. A youthful Rupert Graves gives us a callow and colourless Beaver, egged on by his ambitious mother.

The change of scene from England to Guyana is somewhat abrupt, though signalled in the script, and it's almost as if we are watching a different movie. This is not necessarily the filmmaker's fault as Waugh backed an earlier short story of his 'The Man Who Loved Dickens' into the first two-thirds of the novel, which is a kind of prequel to the short story. Yet the events of the whole novel bear close correspondence to Waugh's own experiences, his marriage break-up mentioned above, and a journalistic trip he made to Guyana as a kind of therapy. Unlike the unlucky Tony, Waugh returned from the jungle to tell this, and several other mordant tales.

Here the film-makers were not able to give visual expression to Waugh's mood. Perhaps different music might have helped – the theme for 'Brideshead' was perfect. For the most part the actors were well-cast, but they were pinned down by the close adherence of the scriptwriters to the novel's dialogue.


20 of 22 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you?

Message Boards

Recent Posts
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
Looking to contact Alan Bailey brooklynlz-1
Is the opening his suicide? kftweedy
Discuss A Handful of Dust (1988) on the IMDb message boards »

Contribute to This Page

Create a character page for:
?