Around 1906, the widow Lilia Herriton (Dame Helen Mirren) meets a young man when she visits Italy and marries him. The man is only a dentist without a good name, and Lilia's relatives are clearly unhappy with her choice. Lilia dies while giving birth to a son, and two relatives travel to Italy to take care of of the baby, expecting no trouble from the father.Written by
In a scene outside on the veranda in Gino's house in Italy, Lilia (Helen Mirren) has her back to the view of the countryside. At one point, when the camera is on her, a white van can be seen driving along the road in the distance. It is clearly a 1990s-era vehicle, moving much faster than automobiles of the era could have. See more »
Do you want the child to stop with his father who loves him but will bring him up badly, or do you want him to come to Salston, where no-one loves him but he will be brought up well?
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Charles Sturridge's adaption of E.M. Forster's classic novel is well in line with such other greats as "Howards End", "A Room With a View", and "A Passage To India". As with all of Forster's work, "Where Angels Fear to Tread" treats the topic of Edwardian British society with poignancy and humour.
Cultures clash when Philip Herriton is forced by his mother to retrieve the only child of his dead sister-in-law, Lilia, from its Italian father. The baby represents both the English and Italian way of life, and the ensuing struggle over it is an analysis of just how futile our own nativist prejudices can be.
Such a sensitive topic is dealt with by a charming cast. Rupert Graves is perfect as a man transformed by his horrific experiences; Helen Mirren is both laughable and lamentable as the tragically flighty Lilia; Helena Bonham-Carter is the soul of goodness, and Judy Davis (a Forster veteran from "A Passage to India") provides comic relief as stuffy Harriet. These fine performances are matched with a beautiful score by Rachel Portman and even more beautiful Italian vistas courtesy of Mr. Sturridge.
Stimulating and provocative, I highly recommend this film to those interested in either Forsters' work or the imperialistic inclinations of the British circa 1900.
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