When at the supermarket browsing bottles of wine, it may be worth looking more closely at the labels. Although the label on the bottle you purchase may, at first glance, have a design that is indistinguishable from the labels on more expensive bottles found in boutique wine shops, don't wait until you get it home to read the small text that describes the contents as "Wine Product." Not the same thing...
To wrap up the viewing of 1986's Best Picture nominees, yesterday I watched...
A Room with a View
Ruth Prawer Jhabvala
(based on the novel by E.M. Forster)
Maggie Smith, Helena Bonham Carter, Denholm Elliott, Julian Sands, Daniel Day-Lewis, Simon Callow, Judi Dench, Rosemary Leach, Rupert Graves
3 wins, including Best Adapted Screenplay
Just as Platoon is not for those with an aversion to war films, it seems safe to say that those lacking passion for period pieces would be well advised to stay away from A Room with a View. Lucy Honeychurch (Bonham Carter) is a young impressionable Englishwoman at the turn of the 20th century. Escorted by her chaperone, the neurotically proper Charlotte Bartlett (Smith), Lucy's horizons are widened on a holiday in Florence. Here, she meets George Emerson (Sands), who, along with his father (Elliott), is unperturbed by the repressive social etiquette of the day. In fact, in a moment of spontaneity, George boldly plants a passionate kiss on Lucy while picnicking in the Italian countryside.
Lucy's tingly feelings are short-lived, however, for when she returns to England, she soon accepts a marriage proposal from the stuffy but dependable Cecil Vyse (Day-Lewis), whose kissing technique is decidedly awkward. Not to worry, though. George and his father coincidentally move into the neighbourhood, which evokes romantic memories in Lucy, who now attempts to suppress her desire for him.
As a Merchant Ivory production - and one of their biggest hits, to boot - A Room with a View is unmistakably a lavish period piece. The costumes, the sets, the locations are all enchantingly beautiful, and each sequence is preceded by delicate title cards with text taken from the original novel's chapter headings. The result is a kind of storybook effect, successfully transporting the viewer to another time and place.
All the familiar themes of a period drama - social standing, keeping up appearances, repressed love - are present in Ruth Prawer Jhabvala's exquisitely written script, her first of two E.M. Forster adaptations to nab her the Adapted Screenplay Oscar, followed a few years later by Howards End. In fact, with three Best Picture-nominated adaptations from his work (A Room with a View, Howards End and A Passage to India), E.M. Forster is one of the Academy's most represented authors.
The most amusing scene in the picture comes as George takes a swim in a pond with the local vicar, Mr. Beebe (Callow) and Lucy's brother, Freddy (Graves). The three men, naked as the day they were born, splash and jostle in and out of the water with a genuinely care-free attitude. Initially, it is a strange interlude in an otherwise family friendly film, but the scene soon becomes hilariously awkward when Lucy, Cecil and Mrs. Honeychurch (Leach) stumble upon the nude trio.
Helena Bonham Carter, youthful and pretty, portrays Lucy's awakening adorably. Daniel Day-Lewis is almost unrecognisable as the prissy Cecil. My favourite performance was by Denholm Elliott as the charmingly goofy Mr. Emerson, which garnered him a Best Supporting Actor nomination. Maggie Smith received the film's other acting citation - for Best Supporting Actress -for her delightful turn as the uptight Charlotte.