Saturday, October 1, 2011

Ack, No! Another Victorian Film Like the Rest! A Room With A View

The Good: Acting, I suppose, Scenery
The Bad: Predictable plot, Lack of distinct characters, Divisions in scenes
The Basics: A Room With A View is a dreadfully dull film that is plagued by being easy to watch, but impossible to care about the people involved.

There's a distinct period of British literature I find deplorable because it comprises almost a complete century of works where every author tells the same story. I mean almost literally, the same exact story. What differentiates these works is the characters. The most enduring of these works (Villette, Jane Eyre) have stronger characters that are laced with deeper levels that come out in the work. Unfortunately, the film A Room With A View offers no such distinction.

A Room With A View is an explicitly set work (every time the setting changes, there is a break in the film with a placard informing the viewer where the action is now and who is in the scene) surrounding Lucy Honeychurch. Lucy begins her journey in Florence, Italy, where she meets other British people on vacation. One of these individuals is George Emerson. George is a brooding man who ponders the world until Lucy's mere presence in his life opens him up to there being more in life than thought and the pain of the world. So, he kisses Lucy.

This inspires the young Lucy to return to England, where she promptly engages herself to Cecil. Sound abrupt? Well, it seems abrupt in the film as well. I sat watching wondering WHY?! It seemed such a drastic action. But that's Olde England with all of its emotional repression customs. Fortunately, this is dealt with explicitly in the film. Cecil is a bore and a bookworm and when George moves in near Lucy's family, she realizes what we've all figured out: that George and Lucy work better together and they ought to be married.

What works is the acting. Daniel Day-Lewis plays the dry Cecil wonderfully, a complete contrast to other characters I've seen him play. He is stuffy and repressed and plays Cecil up for all he is. Too bad there's not much of him to play up. Helena Bonham Carter portrays Lucy well. She's convincing as a youth of a changing England. Julian Sands plays George competently and Judi Dench plays the somewhat-annoying Miss Lavish perfectly. The scene stealer is also the only decent character: Mr. Emerson who is played with humor and vitality by Denholm Elliott. His scenes are a pleasure to watch as he is a radical and actually lives. He's like a post-epiphany Lester Burnham and it's nice to see that. Miss Lavish is similar, but played as an egotist.

The scenery is nice as well.

What doesn't work is that none of the characters (outside Mr. Emerson) are interesting, captivating, or even enough to keep the plot going at a reasonable pace. The direction is nothing to shout about and the plot has been done to death. Moreover, I found the breaks between scenes that explicitly set up the next scene like chapter titles distracting and detrimental to the flow of the film.

As a final note, this film is unrated, at least the old VCR tape I was watching. I suspect that has to do with the single scene in which three men are running around naked. Outside that, the film is G. With that, it's still no big deal.

For other films featuring Helena Bonham-Carter, please visit my reviews of:
Harry Potter And The Deathly Hallows, Part 2
Harry Potter And The Deathly Hallows, Part 1
The King's Speech
Alice In Wonderland
Harry Potter And The Half-Blood Prince
Terminator: Salvation
Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber Of Fleet Street
Harry Potter And The Order Of The Phoenix
Corpse Bride
Charlie And The Chocolate Factory
Big Fish
Fight Club


For other movie reviews, please visit my index page by clicking here!

© 2011, 2002 W.L. Swarts. May not be reprinted without permission.

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