Bil’s rating (out of 5): BBBBB.
United Kingdom/USA, 1993. Columbia Pictures Corporation, Merchant Ivory Productions. Screenplay by Ruth Prawer Jhabvala, based on the novel by Kazuo Ishiguro. Cinematography by Tony Pierce-Roberts. Produced by John Calley, Ismail Merchant, Mike Nichols. Music by Richard Robbins. Production Design by Luciana Arrighi. Costume Design by Jenny Beavan, John Bright. Film Editing by Andrew Marcus. Academy Awards 1993. Golden Globe Awards 1993. National Board of Review Awards 1993. New York Film Critics Awards 1993.
Between this fantastic drama and Merchant Ivory’s film of the previous year, Howards End, it is difficult to decide which of the two is the superior. Reteaming the main stars of their Edwardian masterpiece, director James Ivory, producer Ismail Merchant and screenwriter Ruth Prawer Jhabvala tell a first-rate tale of suppressed love and lifelong duty. Anthony Hopkins, in one of his greatest performances, plays the head butler of a giant English country manor who in his old age reminisces of his earlier days working with head housekeeper Emma Thompson. Throughout his memories it becomes obvious that his great love for her has constantly taken a back seat to his sense of loyalty to his high-ranking Oswald Mosleyesque employer (James Fox), keeping him from ever admitting it to her. Jhabvala’s script has restructured Kazuo Ishiguro’s powerful novel into a narrative of memories and reclaimed emotions, increasing the novel’s subtlety and along with the fantastic leads and Ivory’s sturdy direction, bringing out the powerful emotion in every scene. A real masterpiece.