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A Handful of Dust (1988)

PG | | Drama, Romance | 24 June 1988 (USA)
The wife's affair and a death in the family hasten the demise of an upper-class English marriage.

Director:

Charles Sturridge

Writers:

Evelyn Waugh (novel), Tim Sullivan (screenplay) | 2 more credits »
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Nominated for 1 Oscar. Another 3 wins & 3 nominations. See more awards »

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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
James Wilby ... Tony Last
Kristin Scott Thomas ... Brenda Last
Richard Beale Richard Beale ... Ben
Jackson Kyle Jackson Kyle ... John Andrew
Norman Lumsden Norman Lumsden ... Ambrose
Jeanne Watts Jeanne Watts ... Nanny
Kate Percival Kate Percival ... Miss Ripon
Richard Leech ... Doctor
Roger Milner Roger Milner ... Vicar
Tristram Jellinek Tristram Jellinek ... Richard Last
Anjelica Huston ... Mrs. Rattery
Rupert Graves ... John Beaver
Judi Dench ... Mrs. Beaver
Pip Torrens ... Jock
Beatie Edney ... Marjorie
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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 »
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Details

Country:

UK

Language:

English

Release Date:

24 June 1988 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

Evelyn Waugh's A Handful of Dust See more »

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Box Office

Opening Weekend USA:

$35,470, 26 June 1988

Gross USA:

$1,560,700

Cumulative Worldwide Gross:

$1,560,700
See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs

Sound Mix:

Dolby

Color:

Color (Fujicolor)

Aspect Ratio:

1.66 : 1
See full technical specs »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

This movie was set in England during the 1930s. See more »

Quotes

Dr. Messinger: Are you acquainted with a Nicaraguan who calls himself alternately Ponsonby or Fitzmaurice?
See more »


Soundtracks

Praise My Soul King Of Heaven
(uncredited)
Music by William Ringham
Words based on Psalm 103
See more »

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User Reviews

Or the 'friendlier' Evelyn Waugh...
4 January 2000 | by bahamutx2See all my reviews

The filmmakers of 'A Handful of Dust' are the same creative dynamos behind the hugely popular 'Brideshead Revisited'. They take the approach they took to 'Brideshead', which Waugh wrote when he was happy, with 'Dust', a novel which Waugh wrote when he wife was cheating on him and when he hated his life. 'Brideshead' was a much happier novel, and many purists consider it not to be a good work of Waugh's because it is lacking the acidic wit, satire and disgust of his characters which can be found in many (though not all) of his works. 'Brideshead' is a slow novel, something which most Waugh novels aren't, and comes as close as Waugh ever came to writing a soap opera. So, instead of giving us a sharp, nasty satire, which the novel itself is, we get a blander, kinder and very unfunny version of the novel. The moral bankruptcy of the characters, more or less the point of the whole novel, is hardly registered. The characters are having a "jolly good time" doing some bad things, but Sturridge and the two other writers (!) don't convey that what their characters are doing is bad. They skip over it, and instead spend all their time in giving away plot twists in the beginning of the film, to create "suspense", and restructuring the film, so all the unimportant scenes get maximum screen time. Even with the nice scenery, the film lacks the speed and fragmentary narrative of the novel, one of the reasons why the novel was considered so revolutionary, and comes across as a blah, nearly witless, edited-for-TV episode of Masterpiece Theater, instead of the theatrical film which it is and should be. This shouldn't come as a surprise, though: 'Brideshead Revisted' aired for months on Masterpiece Theater. The actors, though many are miscast, do their best, most of the technical aspects are there in some form, but the real problem lies with the filmmakers and their unwillingness to make a film which might be dark, mean or angry.


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