Monday, 15 April 2013

Howards End (1992) – ★★★★

regreso_a_howards_end_1992_2Director: James Ivory
Writers: E.M. Forster (Novel), Ruth Prawer Jhabvala (Screenplay)
Stars: Emma Thompson, Helena Bonham Carter, Anthony Hopkins, Vanessa Redgrave, Samuel West

If there’s one thing I’ve learned from the movies, it is that classic novels make for some of the greatest films ever made. Stories such as Gone With the Wind and Sense and Sensibility were perfect because of the magnificent story and character developments throughout, as if it were a novel that you could read in a few hours. With Howards End, we get the same feeling. It’s not like watching a bunch of actors play characters in a movie. It’s like reading a novel, and the characters are all their own and completely natural. It’s a magnificent movie and one of the greatest adaptations from novel to film.

It’s a story that intertwines the lower, middle, and upper classes in an intriguing tale of love, pity, and pride. Margaret Schlegel (Emma Thompson) inadvertently gets involved in the affairs of the upper class Wilcox’s after befriending the eldest of them, Ruth (Vanessa Redgrave). While her sister Helen (Helena Bonham Carter) gets involved in the affairs of a lower class man named Leonard Bast (Samuel West). It’s a realistic portrait of how people acted in the ‘late 19th/early 20th century’. Forget Downton Abbey, Howards End is a much more interesting story.

The acting is perfect. Emma Thompson never misses a beat. Every line that is spoken is calculated, heartfelt, and believable. She deserved her Academy Award for Best Actress. Helena Bonham-Carter actually upstaged Thompson in this film, for she played the more passionate and fiery character. Anthony Hopkins and Vanessa Redgrave also gave perfect performances as the upper-classed Wilcox’s, while Samuel Best gave a very sympathetic and likable performance as the lower class Leonard. 

I would call this a perfect film, however, it didn’t always keep my interest. At times I was bored with the story, and frustrated with the characters. Sometimes I wish that film adaptations would include the main characters thoughts and feelings through narration. That way we can fully connect with them, and see them as real human beings. You never really get to know the characters as well as you want to, which unfortunately made me lose a little interest.

Overall, Howards End is a brilliant story that is cast perfectly with well calculated performances. It contains brilliant costumes and cinematography, along with wonderful music to accompany it. You get transported into a time where the difference between classes are gigantic, and the women (no matter how intelligent or feminist they were) still felt the need to get married. Although we never fully connect or sympathize with the characters, it’s still a beautiful film.

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