Movie Review by Debbie Winkler
Starring: Elaine Cassidy, Rafe Spall, Laurence Fox, Sophie Thompson, Mark Williams
Director: Nicholas Renton
Series: a Masterpiece Classic Movie
Release Date: 4 November 2007
Length: 93 minutes
Movie Rating: Not Rated
View Format: DVD
My Rating: 3/5 stars
“On a trip to Italy, prim aristocrat Lucy Honeychurch (Elaine Cassidy) steals a kiss from a handsome commoner (Rafe Spall) but pays a heavy emotional price when she sees him again in stuffy Edwardian England in this spirited adaptation of E. M. Forster‘s classic novel. The talented cast includes Elizabeth McGovern as Lucy’s mother, Timothy Spall as the socialist Mr. Emerson and Sinéad Cusack as the flamboyant Miss Lavish.” — Netflix.com
I enjoyed this movie for what it was. No, it does not compare to the far superior version starring Helena Bonham Carter & Daniel Day-Lewis, but it is still a charming little version that is perfectly enjoyable if you don’t sit around and compare them side by side. I thought that the way the film was shot was a bit confusing as the original trip to Italy is shown in a series of flashbacks, but, once I figured out what was going on, I was fine. I did enjoy the coloration and cinematography of the film, however, as I felt like they used a lovely sepia-toned palate to give an old-fashioned glow to the beautiful city of Rome.
I felt like the acting was perfect adequate. Elaine Cassidy is a bit muted in the lead role, but I felt like she really represented what wealthy young ladies of good families were like back in that time frame. I was not precisely sure what attracted her to Rafe Spall, who played the handsome commoner she meets in Rome, but maybe it was just the fact that he was so different and was willing to march to the beat of his own drum. I personally would have stuck with the wealthy Laurence Fox. Even though he was a bit stuffy, I felt like he was handsome, charming and, while you would not necessarily have a passionate love match with him, you would not be unhappy either. My favorite actress in the film was Miss Bartlett (Sophie Thompson), a rather nervous chaperon for the young Lucy. At first, I felt like she was too obsessed with what was proper and was putting a damper on the burgeoning romance, but my heart went out to her when I learned a little bit more about her at the end of the film. I felt like the best person in the movie, though, was Lucy Honeychurch’s brother (Tom Byam-Shaw). He was a breath of fresh air in the movie and brought as much fun and enjoyment as he could to this rather stifling time period.
I know that a lot of people were really bothered by the ending of this movie and, while I have not read the novel, and don’t know how accurate it is, it did not upset me. I thought it was pretty interesting that they chose to show a bittersweet ending rather than the traditional happily-ever-after you get in romance movies. While this is not the best Masterpiece Classic movie that I have enjoyed, I thought it was perfectly adequate and worth watching in its own right. If you are planning on watching the the Merchant Ivory version, I do recommend that you watch this version first so that you are not disappointed.
This movie contains flashes of naked male backsides before they go swimming, contains a few homosexual overtones (though nothing is shown or even talked about openly), shows the lead couple in bed together (completely under the covers except for their shoulders & heads), and a man being stabbed in Italy. This movie was produced for TV so it is pretty clean and I believe it is appropriate for viewers of any age, but I think that children ages 12 and up will understand the story line best.