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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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Romance, great actors, historical perspective - perfect.

Author: john_vance-20806 from United States
13 June 2017

I don't usually enjoy this kind of movie because they often seen contrived and strained. Perhaps you could say that about Remains of the Day but the performances are so good and the cinematography so stunning I have no problem overlooking the deficiencies.

Hopkins and Thompson are both at the top of their games in this movie. They take well written dialog and make it even better. To elicit sexual tension between 2 characters who are worlds apart in their perspectives on life takes real talent, even genius.

I've always been wistfully envious of the lives of those like Lord Darlington. The image of large, immaculate estates with elegant guests and flawless service resonates with me and my conception is perfectly recreated in exquisite detail.

The nefarious political "appeasement" that was a significant contributor to an expansive war is personalized here. Though well-meaning and sincere, the naivete of Lord Darlington and subsequent crushing damage it brought upon him is grindingly sad.

I've watched this movie over and over and never feel I'm wasting my time. Merchant-Ivory productions don't appeal to everyone, but this classic is worth-watching for even the most sour curmudgeon.

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I've seen this more than 15 times, and it never disappoints

Author: Chris Jordan from United Kingdom
20 May 2017

Following re-watching Silence of the Lambs a week or two back, just finished Remains of the Day for at least the 15th time. How can one man deliver two performances so brilliant and so different less than 2 years apart? Other films come and go from my top 5, but RotD has been in my top 2 since the first time I saw it more than 20 years ago (1 and 2 switch about).

Anthony Hopkins' performance is, in my opinion, the best piece of acting I've ever seen. Not just words - I've truly never seen better. Repression and dignity personified, tragic, complex and totally convincing. The story spans more than 30 years, but with no obvious prosthetics they age in front of your eyes with a change in facial expression and a different posture, gait or outfit. In fact there is not a bum note in the whole thing - performance, story, authenticity, emotions, realism.

The rest of the cast are almost as perfect; from the ******** posh idiots (the scene where they 'prove' that politics is beyond the wit of the common man is awful but brilliant) and the famous faces; Emma Thompson (I'm more than a little in love with her here), Hugh Grant (funny, sharp-minded and charming), Edward Fox (the benchmark for posh but well meaning and so easily led due to basic morality), Peter Vaughn (dying old man, again!), Lena Headey (so different from Game of Thrones), Christopher Reeve (always great to see him doing more than Superman and sad to remember who he was before the accident). Such a recognisable crowd, but within seconds you forget the famous faces and just believe the story.

And as a bonus it features 2 pubs I used to drink in as a youngster and parts are filmed in a village I grew up near and had friends living just up the road. I remember when I was at school people were excited about it and there were rumours locals would be cast - all ******** of course. Makes it even more interesting, to me at least.

The whole thing is amazing. I'll be back to it again and again.

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admirable work

Author: Kirpianuscus from Romania
20 May 2017

a touching story of love. or about the life meanings. or , just, a story about past. the definitions are not useful in this case. because it is exploration of a world. its roots, its colors, its words and decisions. and hypocrisy. it is a film about innocence. and duty as the wall. and ignoring the essential. it is a form of wake up. about the things who are more than important but who are, for painful long time, only insignificant details. it is the film of Emma Thompson and Anthony Hopkins.. because each impeccable performance of theirs partners does the great frame for a story about lost of life in ordinary way.

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Immaculately constructed but never emotionally connects

Author: spencergrande6 from United States
22 April 2017

This film truly envelopes you in its world. It is immaculately constructed and warms you in an atmosphere of such a specific time and place you feel wholly part of it. I just wish I felt the same way about the "romance" at the center of this.

It's not that I didn't buy it I just never felt it and I get that Hopkins (who gives a greatly restrained and impassioned performance) is supposed to be withholding but I didn't get the fierce devotion that seemingly developed between him and Thompson. There are some gorgeously composed and affecting scenes at the end but they feel separate from the whole.

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A very well acted drama

Author: Ross622 from United States
4 March 2017

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

James Ivory's "The Remains of the Day" is a movie with one of the best movie set designs that I have ever seen and it is very well made. The movie was adapted from the 1989 novel of the same name by Kazuo Ishiguro and the screenplay was written by Ruth Prawer Jhabvala who also wrote Oscar winning screenplays for "A Room with a View" (1986), and "Howards End" (1992) both which I didn't get the chance to see yet. The movie stars Anthony Hopkins as James Stevens a man who has been working as a butler for several years for a man named Jack Lewis (Christopher Reeve) during the post WWII years Stevens would eventually fall in love with a housekeeper named Miss Kenton (Emma Thompson) in Britain. Ivory has been known to direct romance movies but this is one of the most well shot and well acted, it isn't a great movie but is a good one but it doesn't rank with some of the best romance movies ever made. When I watched this movie a few years ago I was left with some unanswered questions which were Who was Stevens really as a person?, Why was Lewis misguiding him and many more. Another problem that I had with this movie was that Jhabvala's screenplay doesn't help us to really figure out who the characters really as people but she does do a good job at generating a little bit of empathy for the Anthony Hopkins character. The movie also has a lot of good things about most importantly the cast, as well as Tony Pierce Roberts' cinematography which was really good, and besides the set the costumes were nothing short of brilliant. I'm hoping that the other two Ivory films that I listed are much better than this one despite the fact that I happened to like this one.

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A moving yarn of a radical occupational hazard

Author: lasttimeisaw from China
1 January 2017

A UK heritage period drama, THE REMAINS OF THE DAY arrives on the heels of HOWARD'S END (1992), also starring Hopkins and Thompson, a one-two punch from the hallmark Merchant-Ivory production, scripted by Jhabvala, the irreplaceable third constitution of the tried-and-tested creative triangle, from Ishiguro's Booker Prize winning novel.

The main character is Mr. James Stevens (Hopkins), the devoted butler of Darlington Hall in England, the film starts in 1950s, when Darlington Hall has been acquired by a retired USA Congressman Mr. Lewis (Reeve), and Stevens takes his days off to visit an old friend, the former housekeeper of the manor, Miss Kenton (Thompson), who left twenty years ago to get married, but currently is single and seems to be very willing to resume her old post. Meantime, the narrative harks back to the interwar years when they work together in service of Lord Darlington (Fox), who aims high to save the world from an impending World War but hampered by his naiveté ascribed to his rarefied noble standing, eventually falls victim to the callous opprobrium which would become his ruination.

A DOWNTON ABBEY urtext in the movie's immaculate interior design and settings, Stevens plays up his restraints, which is inherently designated by the nature of his job, to an excruciating fault, that he is blindly subservient to his duty and onus, to the loyalty of his lord, averts any personal inklings toward the outside world around him or anything else actually, a working machine almost shorn of all the human emotions, among which in the cynosure is the building affection between him and Miss Kenton (or is it just a one-sided wishful thinking from her?). Encumbered by Stevens' sacrificial self-discipline, Kenton's more liberalized disposition wears thin until she finally throws up the ultimatum, and in a flurry of his dutiful engagements, Stevens detachedly refuses to take it up, which drives her away in heartbreak.

But, fate is magnanimous to Stevens and grants him a second chance, 20 years later, to claim his lost chance, only this time, he is not the one who has the say, and it concludes with a heart-string- tugging bang when they depart, purportedly for the last time, and the two leading players completely channel each other into emanating one of the saddest goodbye scenes ever to the knowledge of this reviewer, however schmaltzy it seems, it magnificently turns on audience's waterworks, that's what a high-caliber melodrama capable of! Mr. Hopkins is pitch-perfect as a British stickler of his work ethic and reliably conveys his subtle but empathetic inner feelings through his lilting diction and expressions, he might be a person we cannot wholeheartedly stand up for, but we never cease emitting our compassion to him. Ms. Thompson, is given a smaller stage than her co-star, but she is a formidable force of dramaturgy, holds up against Mr. Hopkins in every scene with glint of dignity, mettle and tenderness. Peripheral characters are mostly limited in a less upstaging mode, James Fox is the quintessential goody-goody British aristocrat, Hugh Grant gives an amicable presence as Lord Darlington's godson, and the late Peter Vaughan is allowed to foreground his obstinate persona as the memorable Mr. Stevens, Sr.

The political agenda of that particular period (Britain's stance of appeasement towards Nazi Germany) has been teased out exclusively through Stevens' perspectives, but his minds are downright shut out, he simply does his job to perfection and gets satisfaction from being part of the occasions (theatrically, those important nights would coincide with several life-altering happenings as regards to his life), because his unswerving trust in Lord Darlington expunges him from worrying about things of that sort, it is an easy opt-out, which visibly haunts him in his latter days and goes against grain of being a person who possesses absolute individuality and unbridled personality,

A moving yarn of a radical occupational hazard, THE REMAINS OF THE DAY remains as a high achievement in period filmmaking, but loses a shade of its artistic luster in the light of its jaundiced approach of martyrizing its central character to state the obvious that is so unambiguous in the present climate.

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1 out of 2 people found the following review useful:

Classic British drama.

Author: punishmentpark from Netherlands
27 January 2016

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

A new viewing, and once more I had forgotten a lot of it, story-wise. Two stories in one, and one can't help but compare them. The one protagonist was naive, noble ánd on the wrong side in (and before) World War II, the other was naive, noble and 'on the wrong side' in his own love life. This analogy didn't work that well for, even if the first story is more of a background for the latter.

But there is a lot to enjoy beyond that, here. Lots exuberant settings which contrast heavily with the 'smaller' love story that must apply great effort to break away from behind the stiff upper lip. But leave that to Anthony Hopkins and Emma Thompson. Terrific jobs by both of them.

The supporting roles are very good as well, by Peter Vaughan (the father) and James Fox (the count) especially. Hugh Grant fails at one point, but this is mainly a problem in the story; I thought it was a little too much when he lashed out at Mr. Stevens on politics, war and involvement (and puts the man in his place) - he was merely asking if Mr. Stevens would join him for a drink and they were good friends on top of that. De conversation between Mr. S. and the man who gave him a ride, was somewhat inane and lacked a clear conclusion... perhaps I have missed something there, which may happen when one watches such a long movie in the small wee hours.

If you liked Downton Abbey and have never heard of this before ('t is possible, is it not?): this is must watch material.

A big 8 out of 10, once again.

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1 out of 2 people found the following review useful:

The War!

Author: gavin6942 from United States
19 March 2015

A butler (Anthony Hopkins) who sacrificed body and soul to service in the years post World War I realizes too late how misguided his loyalty has been.

This is a very interesting film. Maybe not historically accurate, but it raises some great themes. The butler is there, he sees the interaction of English and German, but it is not his place to speak up or speak out. His loyalty outweighs any personal opinion he may have. This is likely a realistic thing that happened throughout Europe, and could even be seen as a parallel to today's whistle-blowers. When does our conscience outweigh our loyalty?

The film was nominated for eight Academy Awards, but won none. This is due in part to "Schindler's List", which ended up winning five of those. I guess that's fair. Both are World War II films and both discuss the Jewish situation... but one is the emotional superior.

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1 out of 2 people found the following review useful:

A Romantic Period Piece!

Author: g-bodyl from United States
15 March 2015

The Remains of the Day is a film that shows how the British upper-class system began to crumble as it faces modernity and fascism. As a history major, this movie was interesting as we see some of the British lords trying to make a deal with the Nazi criminals. This is also a sweeping love story, not in the sense of physical contact but in the sense of our two leads bickering with each other nonstop which shows blind devotion towards one another. I thought this was a fascinating film, thanks to strong direction by James Ivory and great performances by Anthony Hopkins and Emma Thompson.

Ivory's film is about a butler named Mr. Stevens who served the Lord Darlington in the mid-30's as the Nazis were taking rule over Europe. Stevens is a proper gentleman, but he learns a little too late about the man he serves. He also becomes quite friendly with the housekeeper, Miss Kenton.

Anthony Hopkins and Emma Thompson deliver Oscar-worthy performances in their roles. Hopkins as a proper gentleman who follows proper edicate procedures and Thompson as the housekeeper who does not like what is happening in her household. I also admired Hugh Grant's performance as the journalist godson of Darlington and James Fox as Darlington himself.

Overall, The Remains of the Day is a masterful period piece about a butler who tries to stay out of his master's business, even if his master was trying to deal with the Nazis. The film also works as a love story, but in a different kind of way. I loved the exquisite cinematography of the film and it shows what a beautiful area the English countryside is. A film that shows how the upper class of England is vastly different than the rest of the world.

My Grade: A-

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1 out of 2 people found the following review useful:

An Excellent Movie

Author: slightlymad22 from United Kingdom
4 January 2015

Giving career high performances Anthony Hopkins and Emma Thompson reunite in "Remains Of The Day" based on a novel of the same name, by the British author Kazuo Ishiguro. It also features Christopher Reeve and the yet undiscovered Hugh Grant in a small role. It is centred in an English country house just before and after the Second World War,

Plot In A Paragraph: The film is the story of 2 loyal servants - Mr. Stevens (Hopkins), the butler, and Miss Kenton (Thompson), the housekeeper - at Darlington Hall in pre World War II England. Stevens, a second-generation servant to Lord Darlington (James Fox), a Nazi sympathiser, always performed his duties with the utmost attention to detail. Miss Kenton was equally as efficient, but much more high spirited. They were clearly attracted to each other, but only able to relate on the level of butler and housekeeper. Their affection was only expressed in terms of pitched battles over domestic details.

I'm disappointed to see some reviewers call this "boring" and state "nothing actually happens" as I don't believe either statement to be true.

Although he appears in a limited number of scenes, Christopher Reeve adds a breath of life to this film. Reeve ad libbed the scenes where he yanked off and then threw the ambassador's shoe in frustration, as well as a later one in which he apologised to Lord Darlington for his statements over dinner.

Peter Vaughn, Ben Chaplin and James Fox are excellent with Reeve in heading the supporting cast. Hugh Grant (who rates this as his best movie) also gives a great performance in his small role.

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