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The Remains of the Day
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The Remains of the Day More at IMDbPro »

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5 out of 6 people found the following review useful:

Unrequited Love: The Story, Though Not the Plot, of My Life!

Author: xrhstos from Astoria, NY, USA
27 November 2003

So much has been said and written about this film with regard to how all that goes into filmmaking as an art is so wonderfully realized, that I cannot think of any but personal aspects with which to express my enjoyment of it as both entertainment and art. For me it is an example of how particulars are used to achieve generalization that touches individuals back on a specific level. I remember that from one of my literature courses in those ancient times of my life thirty years past when I was a student. To make true generalizations about anything, in this case life itself, you must particularize--whatever the medium.

And so it is that a story which is particularly that of an English butler who has either consciously suppressed his love or unconsciously repressed it--or maybe both--gives us the details of emotion and behavior that we recognize as truthful generalizations that are actually reflective of the details of our own individual lives. This is in no way would-be didactive art, but actually high art that achieves the kind of communication with the viewer that becomes the viewer's communion with that art.

I say unrequited love has been the story of my life without fear of revealing something private, because it is also something that, through this film, can be shared with others. I have never been a butler or anything remotely resembling that profession, but I have known what it is to be reticent about expressing my emotions and I have known what it is to lose love through the most stupid of fears--love that might have had a chance to be realized through some basic human courage that I somehow lacked. My ever-reserved behavior won me no wife, but many sisters who love me for being a great confidant and brother. And now it seems to me--now that I have just seen this film--that I face the remains of my own day, but I still find myself hoping it is not too late.

Anthony Hopkins has given a performance that is aesthetically perfect and emotionally profound--his acting has touched me as I am sure it has touched many others. With everyone else who has loved and admired this film, I must declare my deepest appreciation for the acting of the entire cast, but even as they all shine, Anthony Hopkins shines just a bit brighter.

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9 out of 14 people found the following review useful:

Thankfully, this one doesn't star Chris Rock.

Author: turing77 from United States
16 February 2004

This was probably the best film of 1993. Anthony Hopkins is one of the greatest living film actors, and here he is at his peak. Everything about this film reeks of quality, and even Christopher Reeve acquits himself well. One to own.

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12 out of 20 people found the following review useful:

Oh my God, what a superb film!

Author: Rachel McCann
27 November 2003

I adore Anthony Hopkins as it is, but the first time I saw this film I cried at the end, and I have never, ever, ever cried at a film before in my life, and I am 19years old!! And I have cried, every time I have seen the film since!

Please somebody agree with me, that even though I am 19yrs old, I find Anthony SERIOUSLY sexy!

Aside from that point, I do think this is an amazingly acted, amazingly constructed, amazingly shot, very, very powerful film! It had a superb -carpe diem - meaning behind it - a reminder to us all that we should never miss an opportunity - seize the moment.

Again - Sexy Anthony?!

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3 out of 3 people found the following review useful:

Hopkins' finest role

Author: Sandcooler from Belgium
22 December 2012

"Remains Of The Day" is a script that clearly stood or fell with the casting of the Mr.Stevens character, and thank God they hit that one out of the park. Anthony Hopkins is perfect in this complex role, the writing isn't always that solid but Hopkins can just make any scene work here. Playing a character that's supposed to hide all his emotions is a challenge, but Hopkins still manages to give Stevens amazing depth. It's all in the little things I guess: occasionally Stevens will smile, but you never know if he's really happy or if he just does everything he does because it's expected from the butler. You can't look in the character's mind because he's so brilliantly underplayed. The best scene of "Remains Of The Day" comes near the end, when Stevens enters the room of a sobbing Emma Thompson. The climax to that scene (or lack thereof) is so fitting and so amazing. This is not my favorite movie ever because as I said, it isn't even that well-scripted or directed, but it's very compelling nonetheless.

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3 out of 3 people found the following review useful:

The Most Internalized Road Trip Ever Committed to Film

Author: jzappa from Cincinnati, OH, United States
10 August 2011

Stevens hails from an institution of utter servitude. His end in life is to assist and complete his employer to the paramount of his capability, and as we grow closer to him, we understand that this was his sole end: He let it blind him to all of the other inevitable possibilities of life. Merchant-Ivory's piercingly thoughtful, smoothly crafted elegy for the Stiff Upper Lip is framed by Stevens' excursion to the sea, and what he discovers there. What defines this trip, in his world an odyssey, is the scenes of the past that connect the present, the moments in his life at Darlington Hall that he's truly chosen to remember, which use Lord Darlington's playing host to the world's preeminent officials as a context, in which it seems periodically like hope for Britain is being determined.

Bit by bit we start to become conscious that things were not as they seemed, that Darlington was not as judicious as he thought, that Stevens, in one of Anthony Hopkins; many sterling lead performances, was blind to the truth surrounding him. Namely that Lord Darlington, before WWII, sympathized with Germany, and wanted to effect an independent concord between Britain and the Nazis. In this he was not exactly an outright bad person. He was misled, unthinking, swayed without trouble by the devoutness of well-mannered bigotry. He was, as dinner guest Christopher Reeve harshly notifies him, a layman who should've left foreign policy to real politicians.

In a characteristically impeccable performance by Emma Thompson, Ms. Kenton is noticeably drawn to the manservant, but he's petrified of closeness, and evades it through an uncompromising dedication to his work. The film shows this in a sequence of hushed, virtually enigmatic scenes in which she advances and he withdraws. Hopkins and Thompson are performers so above reproach that their chemistry, so understated as to almost be invisible, is yet so strong as to power the entire film. One of the most throbbing, and inspired, of these scenes gradually tighten in on Ms. Kenton startling Stevens in his room reading a book. What book? He conceals the cover. She presses him, literally backing him into a corner, grabbing the book to discover it's a romance. She hadn't anticipated he read those. He solely reads, he awkwardly clarifies, to enhance his already masterful lexicon.

Does Stevens hold any common human emotions? Very probably, which is what makes his behavior so fascinating and Hopkins so extraordinary, but something has guided him to submerge them. We meet his butler father, who raised him under an unyielding notion of service, so stern that when his father is essentially dying, Stevens doesn't leave his station at a key dinner party.

The most internalized road trip ever committed to film unravels, as episode and reminiscence expose one mystery after another. We start to grasp the temperament of Darlington's manners. The lord, played by polished and elegant James Fox is not a mature man. He even enlists Stevens to describe the birds and the bees to a godson who is clearly far from a zoological understanding of sex. Encouraged by Nazi adherents and anti-Semites, he backs "international conferences" that sooner or later head toward Darlington Hall being portrayed as a conspirator's nest. Does Stevens hear what is conferred at the gatherings where he serves? What does he dwell on it? It's not the servant's position, he elucidates, to pay attention to his employer's discussions, or have attitudes toward them.

As the political debacle of Darlington Hall unfurls, a personal one is also budding. Ms. Kenton, disheartened by her advances toward Stevens, in time flees her job. And it's only countless years later that she writes to Stevens again, inspiring his odyssey. Maybe somewhere obscured in the dusk of his dreams, there's the brain wave that she might… The closing scenes illustrate a deafeningly quiet heartbreak. The entire film is understated, meditative, reflective: An admonition to those who keep their emotional lives in abeyance. Stevens has in effect exhausted his life for the benefit of a traditional sense of duty, an illusion of permanence. He has used his "responsibilities" as a reason for evading his responsibility to his own contentment.

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3 out of 3 people found the following review useful:

Truly - one of the greatest films ever made

Author: tobydale from United Kingdom
20 February 2011

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

Rarely do films come along which have the power to completely move the viewer to another place and time - to grip us with that sense of being there, and then take us even further into explorations of our self and our own failings and weaknesses. The Remains of the Day is such a film.

A masterpiece. Every aspect of this film is as near perfection as it's possible to imagine. Another reviewer here wrote; "It also boasts some of the finest performances ever put on film", and "To describe Anthony Hopkins as brilliant is completely redundant. His turn here goes way beyond mere acting, and it was criminal he was denied the Oscar at the 1994 Academy awards". Absolutely so. I was shocked that Hopkins didn't pick up the Oscar - his Butler, Stevens is one of cinemas greatest portrayals. Emma Thompson should also have picked up best actress. In fact - it's quite inexplicable that this wonderful picture received no Oscars at all! EVERY element of this film; story, screenplay, music, acting, cinematography is peerless. There is no weak spot.

The Novel is a good one - and it won many awards, but good novels don't always make great films - much depends who takes up the challenge of translating it on the screen. But the translation here magnifies the work immensely.

Throughout, the story is one of self-denial, the subjugation of ego and self. Hopkins (as Stevens) LIVES this life and embodies it in a way which permeates the whole film. This spirit controls the piece; Stevens allows his life to be controlled by the rules of his role. Although he is clearly a thinking man, he thinks only of loyalty, blind unquestioning loyalty. He only thinks to break out after his master is found to have flawed thinking - which leads him to question, finally, why he made the choices he did earlier in his life. Now realising his own thinking to be flawed and his choices mistaken Stevens elects to try to do something with "the remains of the day". It's a tremendous journey.

In ourselves we know throughout that Stevens is making, wantonly through actively choosing self-denial, a mistake which is costing him the happiness of his life. Because of the flashback construction we see how this mistake pans out. We live Stevens's mistakes and self-abrogation, we sense the struggle - we see his choices when confronted with them, and because the character is so well etched (and Hopkins so marvellous in the role), we see what could inform the choices he could make. But in fact - nothing informs his decision making, and he doesn't make any choices - because in his mind he can't be anything other than a Butler. His pride tells him that to be the best Butler there is only one way he can be, and that's like this - seemingly cold, seemingly unthinking. Like Stevens - we the viewer can do nothing, we can make no choices, so we become like him - someone helplessly, regretfully viewing his own life. We sense his pain - but never see it displayed. Only at the end when we understand that he has finally made the right choice is there any form of resolution and our identification with Stevens can become complete.

This is a film for anyone who wants another view of human choices which determine and describe the human condition. Truly - one of the greatest films ever made.

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3 out of 3 people found the following review useful:

This sad, unusual period is actually a touching story of uncertain romance.

Author: Lucien Lessard from Canada
27 November 2005

An loyal butler (Oscar-Winner:Anthony Hopkins) thinks about the life, he had with his previous master Lord Darlington (James Fox) and the romance, he could have had with the housekeeper (Oscar-Winner:Emma Thompson) in the post World War 2. When he receives a letter from the ex-housekeeper, he decides to meet her and re-kindle the passion for his true love. But his past was much more troubled, when he had to choose the life that might lead him to romance but he listened to his overly proud father (Peter Vaughan) and stayed with his master. But his previous master challenge him to a maintained servitude, since his master was an Nazi Sympathizer.

Directed by James Ivory (Howards End, Jefferson in Paris, Surviving Picasso) made an fascinating period drama with great performance and unusual story of forbidden romance. Excellent production designs and an haunting music score by Richard Robbins makes this see, a must see.

DVD has an sharp anamorphic Widescreen (2.35:1) transfer and an good:Dolby 2.0 Surround Sound. DVD has an insightful and funny commentary track by director:Ivory, actress:Thompson and the late producer:Ismail Merchant (The Golden Bowl, Le Divorce, Mr. & Mrs. Bridge). DVD also has three interesting featurettes, deleted scenes with optional commentary by the director and filmographies. Besides Hopkins and Thompson's rich performances. There's plenty to enjoy, especially the terrific supporting turns of Fox, Christopher Reeve as Lewis and Hugh Grant as a Journalist.

Director:Ivory received an Oscar nominated for Best Director. Hopkins and Thompson were nominated for their performances. This film was also nominated for Best Art Direction/Set Decoration, Best Costume Design, Best Original Score, Best Adapated Screenplay and Best Picture. Sadly this film didn't won anything for these terrific nominations. Abigail Hopkins (Hopkins' real-life daughter appears as a Housemaid). Originally Mike Nichols (Closer, The Graduate, Wolf) was the first director of this film but decide to produced the film instead. Screenwriter Harold Pinter (The French Lieutenant's Woman, The Handmaid's Tale, Reunion) is the first person to write the script. Since Ruth Prawer Jhabvala (A Room with a View, A Soldier's Daughter Never Cries) re-wrote much of Pinter's script but some of Pinter's writing has survived from the film. This is unforgettable picture, don't miss this tale of sadness, love, loyalty's and regret. Super 35. (**** ½/*****).

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3 out of 3 people found the following review useful:

One of those romantic drama's that convinces even those who don't like the genre all too much

Author: Philip Van der Veken from Tessenderlo, Belgium
17 August 2005

Somehow James Ivory is a name that I always have connected to costume drama's about the high society in the 19th century. And that's not exactly a good thing for me, because I couldn't care less for that kind of movies. It's just not my style of movie and I always try to avoid them as much as I can. Somehow, I feared that this movie would be exactly the same, although I knew that it was situated in between the two world wars. But I also knew that it was situated in the English high society and that's what kept me hesitating. On the other hand I must also say that I was quite curious about it, because this movie got such a high rating on this website (7.8/10 after 10,789 votes at the time).

In post-WWI Britain, tradition and good manners are still considered as one of the most valuable goods and Mr. Stevens will make sure that his master will not lose face towards his many guests. He is the butler who has sacrificed his entire life in order to serve his master in the best possible way and he makes sure that all the other staff members are as impeccable as he is. But when the new housekeeper falls in love with him and he can't show his feelings and when his master starts close relations with Nazi sympathizers, he finds it more and more difficult to do his job in the most perfect way...

If someone had told me before watching this movie that I would love it, I would never have believed him or her, thinking that they were exaggerating. But to my own surprise I must admit that I did like it ... a lot even. This is by far one of the best romantic drama's that I've seen lately. The story, the acting, the directing,... it's all very powerful and compelling and it didn't let go of me from the first minute until the last. I guess it was the obvious contradiction between what he wanted to do and what he was supposed to do and the constant tension in his relationship with Miss Kenton, that kept me interested.

Another reason why I liked this movie so much is the excellent acting. I already said it before in another review and I'll say it again in this one: Anthony Hopkins is perfect to play the role of the true gentleman. I never got the feeling that he was acting in this movie. Somehow he felt so real and natural, that I immediately forgot about the fact that this was just a role that he was playing. He has always been a fine actor, capable of playing all kinds of roles, but this is definitely one of his best. Also very interesting were Emma Thompson, Peter Vaughan and Hugh Grant, who all did a wonderful job in this movie.

In the end this is one of those romantic drama's that could even appeal to the people who normally would never watch such a movie. Before watching this movie I was more interested in the time period it was situated in than in the story, but even when it had been situated in the 19th century, I would have liked it a lot. This is just one of those movies that deserves to be in the top 250 list and it's too bad that it isn't right now. Personally I give it a rating of 8.5/10.

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3 out of 3 people found the following review useful:

British film makers tend to make films for their friends.

Author: wendycooke107 from Southampton< England.
22 February 2003

I think it was Richard Attenborough who said "British film makers tend to make films for their friends". This sentiment was fixed in my mind as I sat down to watch The Remains of the day. but as the credits rolled at the end of the film I realised I had just watched a modern classic. My only criticism of the film is that it is too short, but maybe this was born out of the frustration I felt for the Hopkins characters inability to express his feelings either professionally or emotionally. A position we all find ourselves in at sometime.

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3 out of 3 people found the following review useful:

Bitter pill.

Author: Adam Frisch from London, England
4 January 2003

This is such a great motion picture. Normally I try to stay clear from english period pieces, but this one has remained with me for so many years, and I've often revisited it. It breaks my heart every time. I don't think I've ever seen such a repressed and un-nourished heartwrenching love story ever before. Or life story for that matter. Undoubtedly, this is Anthony Hopkins finest hour.

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