In a Florence pensione circa 1900 with English guests, George Emerson (Julian Sands) and his dad (Denholm Elliott) offer their rooms with views to Lucy Honeychurch (Helena Bonham Carter) and her chaperone, Charlotte Bartlett (Dame Maggie Smith). Lucy and George get acquainted, but Lucy returns to England. George and Lucy meet again, but now she's engaged.
When Lucy Honeychurch (Helena Bonham Carter) and chaperone Charlotte Bartlett (Dame Maggie Smith) find themselves in Florence with rooms without views, fellow guests Mr. Emerson (Denholm Elliott) and son George (Julian Sands) step in to remedy the situation. Meeting the Emersons could change Lucy's life forever, but once back in England, how will her experiences in Tuscany affect her marriage plans?Written by
In the opening, Lucy and Charlotte complain that their rooms face north, and thus they have no view of the Arno river. They switch to south-facing rooms. But the view out of their new window faces both the Arno and the Duomo, the latter of which is north of the Arno. Thus, the new rooms must face north; it is the only vantage point from which one may view both the Arno and the Duomo. See more »
This is not at all what we were led to expect.
I thought we were going to see the Arno.
The signora distinctly wrote, South rooms, with a view and close together, instead of which she has given us North rooms without a view and a long way apart.
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I have enjoyed 'A Room with a View' since it arrived on the scene in 1985. I have watched it many times and the video is wearing out and I fully intend to get the DVD of it soon. I saw it again the other night and am still charmed by it, in fact, I enjoyed it more than ever. Yes, it's a costume drama under glass, but it's a very well-done example of that popular genre. Films like this are greatly appealing to people like me who yearn for a gentler society and manners, though without the uptight staidness as exemplified by Aunt Charlotte (Maggie Smith) and Cecil Vyse (Daniel Day-Lewis). So this movie falls under the category of "comfort" film for me, and it is one of the very best.
Often Merchant/Ivory productions ring false ('Remains of the Day', for example), when they attempt to make a political statement; in that case regarding the under-current in Britain that led to the surprisingly popular British Union of Fascists created by Sir Oswald Mosley prior to WW2. But when James Ivory and his team stick to romance and the pretty manners of Edwardians, they are hard to beat.
Of the performers, Julian Sands seems the most "improved" in my opinion from earlier viewings. He is wonderful as the Byronic lover and has a ton of chemistry with Helena Bonham-Carter's lovely, spicey Lucy Honeychurch. Daniel Day-Lewis's Cecil Vyse seems a bit more contrived as time passes but is in the end a touching portrayal of a type of man that I despise.
There isn't weak link in the entire cast. The Puccini arias and Beethoven piano sonatas are beautiful and enhance the story. The photography is gorgeous and the other technical aspects are flawless.
This is the pinnacle of Merchant/Ivory films, I cannot imagine them producing anything better in the future, but who knows. They do seem to be in a cultural rut now, however.
The fringe film crowd will probably descry this sort of populist cinema, but I think that is narrow-minded snobbery, as boorish as Cecil Vyse and his insufferable intolerance to "the plebians."
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