(out of 5)
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.
United Kingdom/USA, 1993
Directed by James Ivory
Cinematography by Tony Pierce-Roberts
Music by Richard Robbins
Production Design by Luciana Arrighi
Film Editing by Andrew Marcus