A rule bound head butler's world of manners and decorum in the household he maintains is tested by the arrival of a housekeeper who falls in love with him in pre-WWII Britain. The possibility of romance and his master's cultivation of ties with the Nazi cause challenge his carefully maintained veneer of servitude.Written by
Keith Loh <email@example.com>
(or possibly just character error) At the very beginning Miss Kenton mentions a conference "back in 1936". At the very end of the film, Lewis asks, "Isn't this the same room where we all attended that banquet back in 1935?" See more »
I can only repeat what most previous commentators have said. This is a beautiful film in every way.
Anthony Hopkins performance is awe-inspiring and difficult to describe. Stevens the butler never shows any emotion so his face is always suitably deadpan. The dialogue is spare. Then just how is it that we are able to follow the emotional undercurrents? Emma Thompson is also brilliant as the energetic housekeeper who does display and express her feelings without ever stating them directly. But all the actors are excellent, even in the most minor parts. Hugh Grant has a small part and plays it perfectly. Sadly his talent is too often misused and misapplied. James Fox was a revelation as prior to this I had only seen him in very light roles. Here he played an essentially decent man who is not too bright but has been born into wealth and influence. His sentiments and suggestibility lead him to misguided positions and tragedy.
Among the many great scenes there is a hilarious laugh-out-loud sequence with Hopkins and Grant.
I have seen "A Room With a View", another effort from the Merchant-Ivory-Jhabwala team. It is adapted from a lovely book but I disliked the film. I thought it failed to set the mood and put across the emotions. But in "The Remains of the Day" everything works. It is sad, actually heart-rending, but not gloomy. The period details are wonderfully executed and you are impressed by the order and efficiency in the running of the stately home. Everything in the film looks good- clean, bright and sharp. You are swept in at the beginning and stay rapt till the end. And the magic does not decrease with repeated viewing. I have seen it a number of times, it remains absorbing and fresh.
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