Jean W. from JORDANVILLE, NY Reviewed on 3/18/2013...
this movie has a terrific cast and is very watchable, but once is enough. An unusual story but I am not sure what the point of it is.
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THE WHAT-IFs OF LIFE THAT YOU SIMPLY "ACCEPTED"
Shashank Tripathi | Gadabout | 11/29/2003
(5 out of 5 stars)
"This Merchant Ivory masterpiece is a must-own DVD: not only if you are intrigued by the labyrinthine world of English genteel lifestyles (butlers, under-butlers, footmen and the like), or some splendid British dialogue, but if you fancy an understated cinematic experience that still stirs emotion and circumspection comparable to that provoked by the written word. Anthony Hopkins and Emma Thompson play the dignified servants of a manor between the walls of which "great affairs of the world are decided." Both had me in their clutches at the very outset (set against the backdrop of the English countryside and exquisitely complimented by the music of Richard Robbins) and never let go. I was also somewhat surprised to see an early Hugh Grant and a young Ben Chaplin -- both before they became famous, and you can see why they got where they are today. Each and every screen of the movie is riveting, and all characters play their parts impeccably. With the possible exception perhaps of Christopher Reeves' character -- the brazen, world-saving American who calls other European topdog politicians "amateurs." Yet, thats a minor gripe, and entirely overshadowed by Anthony Hopkins who so subtly reveals all the feelings that his character works so hard to repress that the pain is almost palpable. There is also a nuanced romantic subplot, nothing is ever shown in somatic expressions of hugging and kissing, yet the tension between Hopkins and Thomson is one of the most memorable you will ever see. Unrequited love, was it? The average moviegoer might find the film slow, but anyone interested in watching great actors excelling at their craft will be mesmerized! Highly recommended!"
Remains Merchant/Ivory 's finest !!!
Christopher J. Jarmick | Seattle, Wa. USA | 11/27/2001
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Arguably Remains of the Day is the finest Mechant/Ivory film ever made. Anthony Hopkins delivers perhaps his finest performance with an excellent ensemble cast that includes co-star Emma Thompson and James Fox. You'll also see Christopher Reeve and newcomer Hugh Grant on board.Merchant/Ivory films are often too precious and too tastefully presented to get overly excited about. Despite how beautiful they may look, I often find myself restless and then unsatisfied with their films that are often too stuffy and airless to ever experience more than once.Remains of the Day is a little masterpiece of a film -- A wonderful character study and period drama worth repeat viewings.The story is wonderfully framed in the present day of the 1950's, which sets the mood to enjoy the film's exquisite earlier period details. The film's stuffiness is natural because the story centers around the James Stevens (Anthony Hopkins) a butler who has takes great pride in being in complete servitude to his employer Lord Darlington (James Fox) and the large English country home he attends to. Most of the film concerns itself with the late 1930's and early 1940's during World War 2 and Stevens' recollections are centered around his very proper relationship with Sally Kenton (Emma Thompson) who worked as a domestic in the home along with him for many years. Perhaps he can convince the new present day owners of the manor and to let Sally Kenton again work with him once again.Kenton and Stevens' made a great Domestic team, Stevens' recalls. In flashback we see Steven's life working as a butler for Lord Darlington and watching some of the influential politicians, Lords and ladies pass through the manor hallways. Hopkins' performance is one to savor and study. His every inflection, glance, and expression carries several meanings. The longing he feels for Sally must be suppressed to perform his tasks to the utmost of perfection and Sally's personal feelings for Stevens must like-wise be held in check because they are first and foremost devoted to their duties. They share a perfectionism and devotion to their work that nothing is allowed interfere with. If the film sounds dull and stiff, let me assure you that this is a film of such grace, beauty and near perfection that it will haunt you for several years. You will focus on the smallest of details in the film and be richly rewarded for taking the time to do so.The film is rich in period details (the cinematographer was Tony Pierce-Roberts) and offers an impeccable production design by Luciana Arrighi ("Anna and the King"), set decoration by Ian Whittaker (Anna and the King) and wonderfully re-created period costumes by Jenny Beavan and John Bright. You won't forget the performances of Anthony Hopkins or Emma Thompson in Remains of the Day.DVD STUFF"Remains of the Day" is presented in 2.35:1 anamorphic widescreen. A few minutes worth of minor print flaws and very occasional visible edge enhancements are the only minor drawbacks of this high quality presentation of the film. The picture is sharp and crisp, black levels are strong and colors are rich. The soundtrack of the film is presented in Dolby Digital 5.1 though most of the audio is front and center. The score is allowed to breathe around the room a bit but there is very little in the way of ambient noises of sound effects present which could have taken advantage of the the surround sound possibilities. No hisses or pops of noticeable distraction are present.DVD EXTRAS:Plentiful extras include an exclusive 29 minute short documentary: The Remains of the Day: A Filmakers journey. Crew and cast members along with novelist Kazuo Ishiguro, producers Ismail Merchant and John Calley, director James Ivory and composer Richard Robbins disucss the making of the film. Stars featured include Hopkins, Thompson, Fox, and Reeve who offer some criticism of their performances and high praise for the work of their fellow cast members and the director. It's a love-fest but one that has some restraint and gives some interesting behind the scenes details of interest particularly in how the period details were recreated so beautifully. There's a 15 minute featurette which examines the issue of appeasement and how the attitude was partially responsible for allowing Hitler and Germany to become so powerful.The 28 and a half minute HBO behind the scenes special from 1993 is more promotional in nature but of interest which features scenes for the film, behind the scenes footage and interviews.3 deleted scenes can be viewed with or without optional commentary. They are presented in the open matte style which means viewers can see things like the boom mikes which are normally cropped out of the picture. Many will find this particularly interesting which is why James Ivory wanted to show the deleted scenes in this manner.
The commentary track on Remains of the Day is better than most. There are some long pauses in the commentary and some of it duplicates the information that is discussed on the documentaries. There are also many minutes over the course of commentary devoted to participants complimenting each other and those involved in the production. Emma Thompson is at times very funny, and livens things up when they get a little too slow and dry. Mechant, Ivory and Thompson provide an informative detailed and worthwhile feature length commentary to the film. Remains of the Day is beautiful little masterpiece which features some incredible acting. The film is rich with details and the DVD is packed with worthwhile extras which makes this a Special Edition DVD very much worth adding to your collection. .Christopher Jarmick, is the author of The Glass Cocoon with Serena F. Holder a critically acclaimed, steamy suspense thriller."
The Impact Of The Unspoken Word
James L. | 06/14/2003
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Anthony Hopkins and Emma Thompson give superlative performances as the head butler and housekeeper at Darlington Hall in pre-WWII England, where personal and international dramas are enacted. Set in the present, the film uses flashbacks to tell the stories of servants and Lord Darlington, a misguided gentleman who believed appeasement with Germany was the solution in the years leading to the Second World War. Hopkins is his very officious butler, a man who places duty and propriety above all things, even his true feelings for housekeeper Thompson. She is more forthcoming with her emotions, but she cannot bring him to open himself up, including a painfully well-acted scene where Thompson tries to get Hopkins to reveal to her the book he is reading.If you are looking for loads of action and music-video style editing, this film will not be for you. It is a character and class study, and it succeeds admirably well on both levels. Hopkins and Thompson are both able to communicate subtle emotions with a simple pause or a look. The supporting cast is also fine. The screenplay allows the characters and drama to unfold slowly, establishing a feeling for the time and for the differences in class that existed in the era. Remains of the Day is directed with understated style, allowing the setting and characters to dominate. Although it may be more literary than most films, don't mistake it for something stuffy or inaccessible. It's great drama about all too real characters that reminds us of the impact of the unspoken word."
A Masterpiece from Merchant Ivory Productions!
James L. | 03/13/1999
(5 out of 5 stars)
"From the very beginning of the opening titles, set against the backdrop of the English countryside and exquisitely complimented by the music of Richard Robbins, you get the reassuring feeling that you are in for a cinematic treat. Well, 134 minutes later, your reassurances are confirmed, and within this time frame this movie manages to span the full range of emotions with such grace and dignity that you are certain you have seen one of the great motion pictures. Oscar winners Anthony Hopkins and Emma Thompson reunite (first paired in Howard's End) with the acclaimed Merchant Ivory film making team for this extraordinary and moving story of blind devotion-to-duty and forsaken love. Hopkins stars as Mister Stevens, the perfect English butler, an ideal carried by him to perfectionist lengths, as he serves his English master, Lord Darlington (impeccably played by masterful James Fox). Lord Darlington, like many other members of the British establishment in the 1930s, is duped by the Nazis into trying to establish a rapport between themselves and the British government. Thompson stars as Darlington hall's housekeeper, a high-spirited, strong-minded young woman who watches the goings-on upstairs with quiet disbelief. Marvelously well acted by a supporting cast that includes, among many others, Christopher Reeve as American Congressman Jack Lewis and then newcomer Hugh Grant as Lord Darlington's Godson, Mr. Cardinal, this movie captures on film a bygone lifestyle few are aquainted with, in as flawless a fashion as any you will ever see. Masterpiece!"
Yes, They Can Still Make 'Em Like They Used To
Craig Connell | Lockport, NY USA | 04/21/2006
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Wow, what a wonderful movie this turned out to be! I didn't check this movie out until the fall of 2004 after reading a number of positive reviews, enough to pique my curiosity. I was glad I did. In fact, I was so impressed with this film that a week later I went out and bought the book, which is even better.
First of all, the film is a tremendous visual treat. There are some great interior scenes of the Darlington mansion, and great colors inside and in the surrounding outside scenery. This is simply a beautiful film.
Second, the acting of Anthony Hopkins and Emma Thompson was spectacular. They were riveting. The way they deliver dialog and the expressions of their faces.....magnificent acting. Thompson's sad look in the back of the bus near the end of the movie is the saddest, most haunting look on a person's face I have ever seen in 50 years of movie watching.
Hopkins, one of the best actors of this generation, provides a tremendous character study of a man who has been taught that to be the best in his profession, he must suppress all emotion. In doing so, he never learns to think for himself and he misses out on what could have been the love of his life. In that regards, this is a very frustrating story. However, this isn't just a tragic romantic story. Hopkins' character is wonderful example, too, of unselfish devotion and dignified servitude in the face of any kind of circumstance.
This is an extremely beautiful, intelligent and sensitive film. If when people tell you, "They don't make 'em like they used to," show them this film. "