Its the early 1900’s – Lucy Honeychurch (played by Helena Bonham Carter) and her chaperone, cousin Charlotte Bartlett (by Maggie Smith) are on holidays in Tuscany. They are a little affronted by the state of their rooms – imagine being in Florence, in a room without a view! Honestly, it’s not befitting at all for such well-heeled English women … and it just will not do! Two English gentleman guests in the establishment, Mr Emerson (by Denholm Elliott) and his son George (by Julian Sands) gallantly offer to swap their rooms with the women, but Charlotte won’t hear of it … and so begins the visit to Italy and the sequence of events that introduces the young Lucy to a series of fascinating characters and the ways of the adult world. Back in England, Lucy spends happy times with her family – mother Marian (by Rosemary Leach) and her brother Freddy (by Rupert Graves). They host a parade of visitors, including the fellow guests from their holiday in Florence. Then Lucy is courted by Cecil Vyse (by Daniel Day Lewis) and she spends a confused summer trying to understand her feelings and manage the expectations of her family and society in general …. all she wants to do is please her family, marry well and hopefully be happy …. that shouldn’t be so difficult, should it?
This is an exquisite movie; the production is lavish and the audience is expertly taken right into Edwardian life, the art and culture of Florence and the stunning Tuscan countryside. You can almost sense the warmth in the sun, taste the grapes and breathe in lungs full of fresh Italian country air … Helen Bonham Carter is perfectly cast as the young Lucy, with marvellous and faultless support from Maggie Smith, Rosemary Leach, Judi Dench, Daniel Day Lewis and Denholm Elliott – one can hardly imagine anything going wrong with this stellar and gold-plated cast. Both Denholm Elliott and Maggie Smith were nominated as Best Supporting Actors for their work by the Academy. Of course, there is absolutely no surprise that in 1986 the production won Academy Awards (Oscars) for Art Direction, Set Decoration, Costumes and Screenplay. The score is marvellous – it features the heavenly Puccini aria “O Mio Babbino Caro” performed by Dame Kiri Te Kanawa … another perfect addition to this ensemble and another component that adds to the atmosphere of the entire piece. It’s wonderful … just enjoy it.
Made in 1985. Directed by James Ivory.