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United Kingdom 1986
Directed by
James Ivory
111 minutes
Rated PG

Reviewed by
Bernard Hemingway
4 stars

Room With A View, A

A lovingly picturesque adaptation of the 1908 E.M.Forster romance novel of the same name, Room With A View was deservedly winner of Oscars for art direction and costume design as well as for the adapted screenplay by Ruth Prawer Jhabvala, Merchant-Ivory's regular scriptwriter.

With an excellent cast including Judi Dench, Maggie Smith, Denholm Elliott, Simon Callow and Julian Sands, it made the fortunes of Helena Bonham Carter as "The English Rose" in her first feature film (although she would eventually turn to darker material and Goth chic), whilst Daniel Day Lewis wowed critics for his turn as the foppish aesthete, Cecil Vyse, an impressive contrast to his portrayal of Johnny, the gay punk of My Beautiful Laundrette that came out the same year. For my money, however, he and Sands would have exchanged roles.

Bonham Carter plays Lucy Honeychurch, a young woman on a tour of Tuscany with her spinsterish aunt (Smith) where they encounter the freethinking Mr Emerson (Elliott) and his virile son (Sands) whilst Simon Callow plays the ingratiating Reverend Beebe, a society cleric in the picture-perfect Surrey hamlet of Dorking where they eventually re-group for the bulk of the story. 

Although the film, particularly in the second half suffers from some abridging of the original  text with a seemingly excessive use of title cards and sur-titles to bridge what I assume are sizeable ellipses of Emerson's text, overall it is a charming portrayal of well-to-do Edwardian English society on the cusp of change and a guaranteed delight for Anglophiles and lovers of costume dramas.




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