A Room with a View: Merchant-Ivory making it big

[Screenshot]I absolutely loved the source material, and this is an extremely faithful adaptation, down to the chapter divisions. Almost all the supporting roles were brilliantly done: Maggie Smith was delightfully fussy, Daniel Day-Lewis was disgusting from pretty much the moment he appeared onscreen, and Rupert Graves was believably free-spirited. In fact, only the leads were a disappointment here to me: Julian Sands as George didn’t have much to go on—George is an intentionally enigmatic character in the book—but he didn’t burst with quite the passion it seems he should. And, of course, there’s Helena Bonham Carter, who has since moved on to bigger and better things, but was quite young when this was made (19, although to look at her in this film I’d say closer to 15), and not a terribly nuanced actor. Lucy in the novel is a romantic character, sensitive rather than sensible, to use the Regency terminology, but not moody and certainly not as fretful as portrayed here. It’s a pity, because a lot of otherwise well-acted scenes were somewhat marred by Bonham Carter’s indelicate performance.

On a side not I had never noted before how many E.M. Forster novels were adapted by Merchant-Ivory. They have three extremely good adaptations to their name: this, Maurice (whose source material was flawed, but whose adaptation was lovely), and the extraordinary Howard’s End. Theirs is a most impressive collaboration, and maybe I should check out some of their non-Forster material.

See also: IMDB, Wikipedia.

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About Jake
I'm a mathematics professor at the University of Louisville, and a geek.

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