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A Room with a View (TV) More at IMDbPro »

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54 out of 74 people found the following review useful:

A gloom of a "View"

Author: marcelproust from London, England
5 November 2007

Oh dear. When it comes to remakes, or "re-imaginings" or whatever the current vogue is for churning out an old favourite with a new cast, Sir Michael Caine said it best: only remake the flops. It makes perfect sense: if you fail then everyone thinks one can't make a silk purse from a sow's ear, but if you succeed then it's bouquets all round.

But that remaking a classic like James Ivory's film of E. M. Forsters's novel of Edwardian manners is folly of the highest order was borne out last night with this limp and unengaging ITV drama.

Wrapping the action in a clumsy flashback device robbed the story of any freshness or spontaneity, and it quickly became a lot like watching a school play version of one of your favourite films.

There were some interesting touches - Mark WIlliams' closeted Mr Beebe picking up Florentine rentboys would have brought a blush to Forster's cheeks. Also amusing were Mr Beebe's blushes as George Emerson and Freddie Honeychurch shed their clothes for the famous bathing scene. But in order the find the gold there was a good deal of dross.

Comparing any actress to Dame Maggie Smith is unfair, but Sophie Thompson really came off badly - her Miss Bartlett nothing more than the same irritating ticks and tricks she always uses. There was no real person there. Laurence Fox's far-too-handsome Cecil Vyse seemed to be reading his lines from a cue card and far more interested in his clothes than in Lucy.

All in all it makes one deeply fearful for adapter Andrew Davies' upcoming version of Brideshead Revisited.

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31 out of 36 people found the following review useful:

Completely Unnecessary Ending Ruined It

Author: scout-15 from UK
5 November 2007

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

I'd like to say how much I enjoyed this ITV remake. I'd like to, and I had been prepared to until the final five minutes of the film, but I can't.

In the interest of full disclosure, I've always been a huge fan of the 1985 Merchant Ivory adaptation, so I was prepared not to like this. I was pleasantly surprised as the story unwound. To its credit, this version makes much more of the class difference between George and Lucy which wasn't as obvious in the other one, with the aristocratic-looking Helena Bonham Carter and Julian Sands in the leads.

In retrospect, HBC and Sands both come off as too remote and stiff -- unfortunate in a film that is supposed to be about a young woman's sexual awakening and young man who feels truly alive. Rafe Spall and Elaine Cassidy suit the parts admirably, giving their characters a warm sexiness that their predecessors never could.

SPOILER SPOILER SPOILER -- My HUGE problem with this adaptation is the completely unnecessary ending tacked on in a rare misstep by Andrew Davies, which takes place 10 years after the events we have just seen. Lucy has returned for a bittersweet visit to Florence, where we learn that her beloved husband George was killed in WWI. She takes a nostalgic trip to the meadow where she and George first kissed, and the film ends with the completely bizarre suggestion that she will end up with the carriage driver Paolo who led her to George on that fateful day! I don't have a problem, in general, with adapters taking liberties with their source material, but this ending feels utterly ridiculous. If Davies wanted to suggest the looming war or play up more of the class struggle, surely there were other ways to do it. The film up to that point had been about truly being alive. Showing us that George has died undoes the joy that has preceded and feels like nothing so much as superfluous, self-indulgent twaddle.

Disappointing, Mr. Davies.

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15 out of 15 people found the following review useful:

I was expecting

Author: toast-15 from United States
17 April 2008

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

to watch a Jane Austen episode of Masterpiece Theater but instead, E.M. Forster's "A Room with a View" came on. I recorded it anyway, knowing that this was a happy novel and I thoroughly enjoyed the 1985 film. So I sat there and watched and thought that I really enjoyed this one much better because I sensed more character development but then the ending came. What a tragedy, a needless tragedy put into a happy novel. Why??? Obviously, Mr. Davies needs a lesson in fiction from Oscar Wilde, "The good ended happily, and the bad unhappily. That is what fiction means."

It was supposed to have a happy ending! What a downer, life is already full of sorrows and disappointments, can we not even have our happy moments in fiction? Oh, Mr. Davies, I'm so disappointed in you.

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26 out of 37 people found the following review useful:

What rubbish!

Author: ttandb from United Kingdom
5 November 2007

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

POSSIBLE SPOILERS!!!!! I watched this because I loved both Forster's novel and James Ivory's version of it. I wondered if this adaptation might be as good and so settled down to see; but oh how I wish I hadn't.

Mr Beeb and his....'affection' for Lucy gave me the creeps the most (I'm really *trying* not to call him a vulgar vicar). His reaction to her announcement of her feelings for George left me speechless (not an easy thing to achieve, as my family will testify). This was never even hinted at in the book.

I gave this TV adaptation of the wonderful original novel a 2 based purely on the excellent acting. Without the stalewart acting skills of the two young leads, as well as the always wonderful Sophie Thompson, Mark Williams, Sinead Cusack and Timothy Spall I would've given it an 1 (or even a zero if the marks went that low).

However,the ending deserves the most vitriolic censure of all; Andrew Davies should hang his head in shame for being responsible for this dross.

It snatched from the faithful reader of the novel, and fans of the 1985 film, the romantic ending that the two lovers deserved and ultimately got. Thereby E. M. Forster's attempt to break the class divide is shattered; in one fell swoop Davies merely reiterates what so many thought back then - if you crossed classes it could only end in tears.

Please, PLEASE if you want the real ending, then read the novel; or even watch the sumptuous 1985 version with Julian Sands, Helena Bonham Carter and Dame Maggie Smith.

Both show that class should not, and does not, matter; this was the somewhat outrageous idea that Forster had in 1908, and that Davies appears to have completely ignored in 2007. I began to wonder after watching an hour in open mouthed horror if he'd even looked at the original novel, let alone read it.

Or perhaps he just decided that the entire point of the book was something he could ignore, in favour of his own unwatchable, morbid and totally disjointed ending? Better a brief swipe at the futility of war than a happy ending right? Either way he should be locked in a room with both the earlier film and the novel and forced to watch/read them over and over again, until he understands what Forster was trying to say about the pathetic snobbery and class divide of late Edwardian society.

This was something that Ruth Prawer Jhabvala did appreciate (she was the adapter of the novel for the 1985 James Ivory film). Sadly it is clearly something Andrew Davies didn't master when he wrote this bilge.

The other unforgivable thing he did was to gloss over all the remarkable little idiosyncrasies that Lucy, her cousin and all the other guests had (including George Emmerson and his father), and what made their eclectic little band so wonderfully entertaining.

Instead he portrayed them all as sad little people leading mundane little lives and pretending they weren't. The whole programme was utterly depressing, instead of uplifting like the original novel.

I think E. M. Forster is not so much turning in his grave as spinning in it after this vandalisation of his book. I am only thankful he died in 1970 and is not alive to witness this butchery of, what I personally think was, his greatest work.

Unless you are a fan of the actors in this, or if you wish to see Timothy Spall acting along side his real life, and equally talented, son (Rafe Spall), then **

Seriously, I mean it - it's a 116 minutes of your life you won't get back; when it comes out on DVD don't waste your money on it.

You must have better things to spend that fourteen pounds on; like another thimbleful of petrol for your smart car, or those gorgeous shoes you couldn't afford until they were in the sale (and so what if the only pair the shop's got are two size too small and the wrong colour, they're half price! Yes, I've been there - only for me it was boots).

But if the premise really appeals to you then, for the love of God, read the book or, if you really want the viewing experience, see the earlier film version; but I beg you, for the sake of your will to live (I almost lost mine), toss this one back in the 'bargain bin' where it ultimately belongs and walk swiftly away.

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30 out of 45 people found the following review useful:

A new take and a new starlet

Author: alfa-16 from Rural Kent, UK
6 November 2007

I see that Elaine Cassidy has been tipped for the top. Her Lucy Honeychurch catches some of what Helena Bonham Carter missed in the Merchant Ivory film, without succeeding in eclipsing her. The main improvement is that she and a surprisingly unfoppish Laurence Fox look like a more realistic pair of lovers in this Andrew Davies adaptation than HBC and DDL and seem fated for different reasons. I wasn't quite so immediately convinced Rafe Spall had what it took to part them.

Sophie Thompson never disappoints and is a fabulous Charlotte, Mark Williams turns in another great piece of work as does Timothy West.

In fact, compared to the Merchant Ivory version, most of the characters have a little more nuanced colour in their cheeks, with the exception of Freddie and Mrs Honeychurch. What stops this taking off and flying is the lack of real vitality in the script and a lot of direction which tends toward the pedestrian.

Although, on balance, I think I still prefer the Merchant Ivory version, there's plenty enough here to enjoy.

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17 out of 21 people found the following review useful:


Author: Dewhistle from United States
13 April 2008

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

I enjoyed the Helena Bonham-Carter version of this film far more. It captured the humor and romance of the story. It had some light in it. It was alive as any story should be. Even with its flaws, as in the rather lethargic portrayal of George by Julian Sands, it still made you feel more than this version.

Now to this newer film... The actors tried, you can see that. But it was as if the characters, scenes, music, and plot points were all pieces from some kit that had been assembled without instructions and with some special touches meant to make it prettier in the eyes of the assembler. The mood was dark, scenes that should have been funny were serious, scenes that were serious were either clumsy or Stygian in their gloominess. Conversations were awkward and forced. Explanations were few and both plot and character development were hasty and scanty as a result. All to make room, no doubt, for the artistic vision of the director or writer, whoever we have to blame. For, as others have said here, we have as our constant companion an older Lucy who is not living life to the fullest as the movie tries hard to discuss at one point, but revisiting places where she did her living. The places are dark, changed, almost black-and-white in their mood. The familiar "indoors in the daytime with the lights switched off" feeling is present. And if the place had been bright and full of people it would still have been poor Lucy remembering how she got her husband who... ah, here's a spoiler for you...

The romantic ending arrives but leaps, mind you, from Lucy running into a pond thinking to save a drowning George (who apparently was just having a nice float face down in a murky pond) straight to a sex scene in Italy which is just long enough to make you cry, "Good grief, they're nude!" before it cuts to the "after" sequence which always involves people laying under white sheets, chuckling to one another. And once they have you in full apprehension of a joyous happy ending (in spite of making no effort to explain the process of it), a quick artsy-craftsy shot of the beautiful sky outside fades, amid strains of wailing operatic soprano, to a shot of a stone dead British soldier lying, face frozen in a last look of horror, on the edge of a trench as the night flashes with bomb blasts. Yes, it's George, who after all that grinning which seemed to be his main job in the film, has fallen prey to the warmongers and left his Lucy to mourn.

If they were thinking to bring poignancy to the story I think they overdid it. There was too much bitter for the sweet to compete. And to save time for such rubbish, they made sure we hardly got to know the characters, and as a result, much of the plot, since their motivations drove the story as is usual with Forster's books.

The only good thing I can say about it is that I don't think there was anything in it that was so good that it was wasted in a bad movie. It all pretty much tanked.

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16 out of 20 people found the following review useful:

Casting: A+; Davies' Rewrite: F-

Author: gilliann from United States
21 April 2008

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

CASTING: A+ -- I thought that George Emerson in this production had a down-to-earth sexiness that was much more appealing than Julian Sands' version. The class differences were emphasized to very good effect in this one -- by comparison, Sands' Mr. Emerson seemed like an aristocrat, which made it harder to see the family's class objections. Lucy and the other characters were all played very well also -- the only character I didn't love was the elder Mr. Emerson, who was too much of a broad caricature for me here -- I preferred him in the original version, where he was my favorite character altogether. (I must admit that since Harry Potter, I can't see Timothy Spall without ears and whiskers -- he will be Peter Pettigrew/Scabbers forever in my mind).

PLOT-CHANGE: F- This actually ruined the whole thing for me -- it made me furious! I never read the Forster novel, so after watching Davies' ending, I assumed that this must have been Forster's original ending, and reasoned that the Merchant/Ivory version must have been re-fitted with a false happy ending, because who would ever do the reverse? However, as I cried for fifteen minutes after the program ended, I knew that I definitely preferred the happy ending, manufactured or not -- the tragedy just seemed WRONG. How much angrier I was when I found out that Forster's novel DID have a happy ending! Good God! (Is that who Andrew Davies thinks he is?!) I've never heard of adapting a novel by changing the ending into a tragedy -- it doesn't fit, it subverts the whole point, and it ruined my evening. Andrew Davies, get over your pseudo-artistic self -- that stupid, ridiculous ending was a travesty. If Davies wanted to get attention for originality, he certainly did -- and from the reviews I've seen, it's overwhelmingly in the form of disgust.

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14 out of 19 people found the following review useful:

Lousy actors and changed story (SPOILERS)

Author: goldenswim from Canada
14 April 2008

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

After having loved the Merchant Ivory film I was looking forward to this adaptation but something was OFF from the moment it began when Lucy goes to Florence alone, with a bob, in 1922, and says her husband is not with her. Then we go back in time and back again as she remembers her first time in Florence with a Room With A View when she meets George who is her soul mate. Why he is her soul mate or why anyone would want to be her soul mate is not fully developed at all. Neither of these romantic characters were well developed or appealing. Of course, they do fall in love, although Lucy proceeds to run away and get engaged to someone else. Eventually they find each other and marry/elope. About the only good scene is when she rushes to him when he is in the pond... but do we really believe this either? What I hated is we discover George dies and then Lucy appears to be holding hands with the Italian cabbie at the end of the film. Horrible. Why not leave this as a romantic story with the two of them together? Must see the other film version again now... to get this rubbish out of my head!

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6 out of 8 people found the following review useful:

Except for Sophie Thompson a terrible View

Author: jjnxn-1 from United States
11 May 2013

Disappointing and unnecessary redo of the Forster tale. Elaine Cassidy doesn't come close to Helena Bonham Carter's charm and winsomeness and without that the whole enterprise is doomed from the start. The only actor to perform with any distinction is Sophie Thompson who makes a fine Cousin Charlotte, different from Maggie Smith but fun in her fluttery way. The other cast members, fine actors though they may be in other places, are adrift here dwarfed by the memory of classic performances. Even considered separately the production seems flat and airless with the scenes following one another but without a sense of cohesion. To top it all off the ending is disastrous. Really a one star affair, the second is for Sophie Thompson but she's not enough to save this wretched mess. Watch the far superior original instead!

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12 out of 20 people found the following review useful:

Enjoyable but somewhat off

Author: galensaysyes
15 April 2008

When I saw this TV adaptation I enjoyed it in its own right, not having read the novel, but having now read it I must say the additions in Andrew Davies' script, which hadn't offended me in themselves as they did some other viewers, now seem to me to be rather silly and to contravene Forster without improving on him. For one thing, Davies insists on the class distinction between the lovers, but Forster makes it clear that this is not so great: Lucy's family is unaristocratic and has only been admitted to better society by a geographical accident. Then, Davies insists on the homosexual inclination of two characters, which is not only to read between the lines but to go beyond what Forster wrote. He might or might not have seen that as a part of their make-up; it wouldn't matter to the story either way; but I think it's safe to say Forster's Rev. Beebe would never have gone looking for "action" in Italy as Davies' does (or as Davies himself does through the character), and in any case this is irrelevant to the aspect the character presents in the novel; and to use the descriptions Beebe and Forster's other characters give of Cecil Vyse as hints toward his sexual tendency is to misread them; Forster has a different and more interesting view of his nature, and leaves him in, one might say, a world all his own. Finally, the epilogue, which is derived from Forster's speculation on what might happen to the characters "after" the novel, is irrelevant for just that reason: it lies outside the scope of the novel, which is complete in itself.

I do think, however, that this adaptation has a couple of things in its favor, but perhaps not greatly in its favor, over the theatrical film. The novel is a comic novel--a comedy of manners, if the term may be applied to a novel--that reads lightly and trippingly, although it deals with the serious subjects of love and self-knowledge. Its happy idea is something like this: even a fleeting kiss can reveal essential truth and by its light expose all competing falsehoods. The first film was rather too grand for its source, like a vellum-bound gold-tipped limited edition; this version is more to scale. However, it too veers away from the comic, dropping much of the (apparently) trivial chatter while not only retaining but expanding on most of the (seemingly) more serious exchanges. Here Lucy, the character who receives wisdom, seems more accurately cast, being of more indeterminate class (and affections), younger, and more unworldly, though still not quite young enough and not quite the Lucy of the novel, since the script doesn't put her through all the paces Forster does. However, most of the secondary characters are miscast: Sinead Cusack might profitably have traded roles with Elizabeth McGovern, and Timothy West with Timothy Spall, and brought greater weight, as in the novel, to the roles of the mother and the spiritual mentor, making Lucy's changes of direction more credible. I think now that this adaptation, while enjoyable in itself, shared Lucy's condition: it needed a little spiritual guidance too.

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