josh's Review of Howards End
So subtle, yet so very clever. There are some films you watch again and again just because you like them, or something about them. Even if you don't think them among the best ever - they're one of your favorites. This is not that. There are others you really have to watch several times just to penetrate the layers of things hidden - multiple meaning and real subtext. Modern film goers aren't used to this. Many find even the idea of intelligent films that require your intelligence to watch them, a foreign concept. This is one of those.
Now mind you I'm not saying this is a hard film to watch, it is not. It's extremely easy to watch, and very enjoyable - if you like people (or at least the idea of liking people). If you don't like people, you probably won't like this or any period piece. This movie actually has something to say, which is easy to miss. Meaning if you stay on the surface of it, it's very easy to take for granted - looking at the lovely and missing the principles and truths on display. Attention is something you have to pay, and some are simply not willing to do that. They feel the price of the ticket should have covered it.
If you love excellence then you'll love this film, because it is filled with excellence. It's not fast paced like a thriller, but not a single moment of the film is wasted. All the transitions from scene to scene are seamless, and every scene is full. The language here is the language of relationships. With one of the stronger underlying themes being that of the Biblical law of reaping what you sow, and accountability for one's actions.
Pay special attention to where the film begins and the offense (morally) that occurs there, where the film ends - and who is given what would have been theirs (at least in part) had the right thing been done instead of the offense, and the way that it all comes about. Which is part of what causes you to not notice it. Believe me; it is so subtle pretty nearly everyone misses it. In an almost altruistic sense the story comes full circle by ending exactly where it began. Watch how the inanimate objects of an umbrella, a sword, and a house participate in the flow of events, and thereby the direction of lives. This is probably the most nuanced film you'll ever see, and it is a masterpiece . . .