Bad Boys for Life
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shame on the too old man who has intimacy with the young lady.
Superb on many levels, mostly the visuals, as well as; the acting and the developed story. A fascinating look into a pre-war British house and how the staff works and interacts. The veneers that begin to pull away from everyone, most notably from our man Stevens, but also the facades of others as the characters develop and develop further as the story unfolds and weaves through time. The sets, costuming, lighting, cinematography are all world-class per all the Merchant-Ivory films are, and the acting is what is left. It is deeply moving, and there seems to be almost a transparency into the characters, we are intimate with many of them, and in the end a deeply emotive movie. Seriously recommend.
A great cast who act very well. This story has potential but the script does it no favours. Pretty boring.
A must see film. Christopher Reeve, Hugh Grant and Anthony Hopkins are the stand out performances here.
I really appreciated the beginning of this film. the absolute splendor and magnificence of the old English mansion with the Lord to it and the many servants. I also really liked the interesting backdrop of WWII. What I didn't care for was some of the love story (why did she keep pressing a cold brick of a human?) and I felt like it kept deterring from the more interesting politics. I found it fascinating how the Lord felt indebted to the Germans bc of his good German friend killing himself after WWI fall out and the notion of being a true gentleman. To me the more important story was that and how he got seduced into German propaganda including sending Jewish staff probably to their deaths. I also liked some of the class distinctions like the one scene where the pompous jerk is asking the servant his opinion on politics. I would've rather been following the American character personally, the main character was just not very likable. Anthony Hopkins gives a standout perf as always with once again an unreachable/cold person, like Mrs. Thompson.
Repressed love stories seem to be Merchant/Ivory's special from Verena and Olive in The Bostonians (1984), we know they were lesbians, to Margaret and Henry in Howards End (1992). This is one of their most successful products as they were able to reunite the talented Emma Thompson and Anthony Hopkins to bring a difficult to adapt book to life. This is the sort of film that bolsters the reputation of British costume dramas as it questions British society and it's impact on those in lower classes while delighting in the period detail. I was really impressed by the film and while I love The Bostonians more this is one of Merchant/Ivory's best.
Devoted butler Mr. Stevens, Anthony Hopkins, works at the palatial estate Darlington Hall where he tends for his employer, Lord Darlington's, James Fox, every need. He begins to fall for the new housekeeper Miss Kenton, Emma Thompson, but his complete loyalty to his work prevents him from emoting. Darlington develops Nazi sympathies which threaten his position in post-war British society but Stevens remains steadfast in his commitment to him and refuses to return Miss Kenton's affections toward him.
The film works because of the uncomfortable chemistry of it's two leads as the luminous but intelligent and sensible Thompson is a perfect match for the dangerously repressed Hopkins. Scenes of her playfully interrogating him about a romance novel he had been reading and him obsessively discussing how good she was at her job as an obvious cover for his romantic affection for her are melancholy and sweet because Hopkins so fully inhabits his character. Thompson is equally fantastic as she equals her performance in Howards End (1992) by making you care for her deeply with just a few looks or sad smiles, she's on top form here as she gives a wonderfully compassionate performance in In The Name of the Father (1993).
Ivory's direction is also fittingly elegant as we get a lot of time to marvel over the estate and see how claustrophobic it is with multiple well placed exterior shots. His abilities go beyond that however as he is able to make you care about moments that would be insignificant in any other story. He gives all of the actors, including Christopher Reeve and Hugh Grant, a chance to shine even if their role is only brief and never lets the drama rise to histrionics as the film is as repressed as Mr. Stevens. He appears to have an intimate understanding of how the British class system negatively effects vulnerable people and yet he was raised as a middle class American, what imagination he must possess.
Cinematographer Tony Pierce Roberts, also of The Client (1994) and White Fang (1991) fame, does an exceptional job at capturing the grandeur of their surroundings but also the loneliness that haunts Stevens as Miss Kenton leaves him. The sight of Kenton wandering through the yards and Stevens dusting and polishing various parts of the house are given more meaning when you realize that is what these people go through every day of their lives with almost no reprieve. The black and white of the color is scheme is simple but again, elegant and Pierce-Roberts does a good job contrasting the beautiful, expensive Darlington Hall and the rainy, mundane outside world that Stevens is so unsuited to. Britain is viewed through Ivory's lens as we feel as though we are always viewing private affairs that are not for our eyes but at the same time you don't feel like a disgusting voyeur, this isn't Peeping Tom (1960) after all.
I'd definitely recommend the film to most but if members of your family or one of your friends is violently resistant to costume dramas then maybe this isn't for them. I found that even my father, who hates Far from the Madding Crowd (1967) and Where Angels Fear to Tread (1991), was really touched by this film although that may have more to do with Emma Thompson than the direction or cinematography. Of the 1993 Best Picture nominees this is probably my favorite other than the incomparable Schindler's List (1993) because it tells a story that's timeless with unmatched elegance.
The best romance movie ever made!
I have Only recently become a fan of Merchant Ivory Productions, after watching Howard's End for the first time, which I am a huge fan of. This film makes Howard's End look like Howard the Duck in comparison. The acting done by Anthony Hopkins and Emma Thompson rank as some of my favorite performances in film, and might be the best of both their careers. The poignant story of a man who hides his true feelings all his life in an attempt to be "proper" , leading to the downfall of his employer and the loss of his one true love... it was an extraordinary experience.
As impeccable, meticulous, and thoughtfully crafted as the mansion itself, filled with painstaking details and piercing performances that lack in neither emotion or intelligence. The film moves slowly, deliberately, gradually exposing its depths and corners and hidden nooks, shadows concealed by florid taste which are revealed and concealed in swift succession. The house itself becomes a character in its own right, just as Stevens, the butlerï¿ 1/2"played to perfection by Anthony Hopkins at the peak of his powers, though everyone here is truly remarkableï¿ 1/2"is the essence of the house, aloof and studied; yet the butler, a metonym for the whole of the English class system of peerage, is himself a stand-in for the national character, a stiff upper lip in sum and substance.
if you have the patience to give into this slow relationship exhibited by anthony hopkins and emma thompson, it is well worth the payoff. it's a beautiful film and you will be transported to another era.