While traveling through Italy on an extended vacation, Lilia Heriton (Prime Suspect's Helen Mirren falls for handsome Gino Carella (Fiorile's Giovanni Guidelli) and, against the wishes of her family, decides to stay in Mon... more »teriano. Dispatched by self-centered relatives to retrieve her, brother-in-law Philip (Maurice's Rupert Graves) and chaperone Caroline Abbott (Corpse Bride's Helena Bonham Carter) discover startling news that will alter the course of two families forever. Based on the novel by E. M. Forster (Howards End, A Room with a View), this insightful, funny, and sometimes tragic look at the collision of two different cultures features astonishingly beautiful scenery, a haunting score by Academy Award-winning composer Rachel Portman (Emma), and a memorable supporting turn by Emmy-winner Judy Davis (Barton Fink).« less
Kathleen O. (Kathleen) from WALDPORT, OR Reviewed on 3/10/2010...
The cast is wonderful except for Judy Davis who overacts a bit. Helena Bonham-Carter, Rupert Graves and Giovanni Guidelli were wonderful.
The story starts off wonderfully but ends... Well, I can't watch it again.
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COMEDY - TRAGEDY - HOPE
(4 out of 5 stars)
"If you did not know this film was directed by Charles Sturridge you would swear this was a Merchant/Ivory production - no small praise. This film is a comedy/tragedy based on Forster's first novel. As with all of Forster's novels, class distinctions and the situations which arise between them are the central focus of the film. Initially, what results from a newly widowed, young woman (Mirren), taking a trip to Italy and impulsively marrying the son of a local dentist, throws her staid inlaws into a tizzy, and makes for several comic scenes. However, when she has a child - the attempts of her inlaws to "save" the child from what they believe will be a poor upbringing has tragic consequences. All of the actors embody the characters as Forster must have envisioned ninety years ago - Judy Davis is especially good as the spinsterish Harriett and Barbara Jefford is an imposing Mrs. Herriton. Helen Mirren is luminous as the flightly, wayward Lilia and Giovanni Guidelli, as her handsome younger husband, is a perfectly likeable rogue. The relationship which develops throughout the film between Phillip, (Rupert Graves), and Caroline, (Helena Bonham-Carter), is a thing to behold! You don't even realize it is happening (and neither do they) until it's too late. Graves is especially good as Phillip - a young man who is drifting through his comfortable life - until this complicated situation arises and forces him to decide if he is going to let life happen to him or just watch it happen to others. The locations in England and Italy are exquisite and the pace of the film keeps you guessing. The final tragedy and ending are especially bittersweet. Just like real life, things aren't always resolved neatly - but out of all the messiness can come true understanding and forgiveness. A wonderful, hopeful film."
Overlooked fine adaptation of Forster's first novel
Jay Dickson | Portland, OR | 02/19/2006
(4 out of 5 stars)
"WHERE ANGELS FEAR TO TREAD got a bit lost in the shuffle of the film adaptations of E. M. Forster's novels that came out in the 1990s. Neither as much of a crowd-pleaser as A ROOM WITH A VIEW, as appealling to a gay audience at MAURICE, or as dignified and prestigious as A PASSAGE TO INDIA, this film instead featured the stars of each of the previous three Forster adaptations--Helena Bonham-Carter, Rupert Graves, and Judy Davis--and cast them very atypically in roles that seemed like poor fits for them each at the time but now in hindsight show off each of their considerable ranges. The widowed Lilia Herriton (the wonderful Helen Mirren, in a terrific performance) travels to Italy while chaperoning her younger neighbor Caroline Aboott (Bonham-Carter) on her first trip there, and marries a handsome young Italian man mostly to escape her interfering in-laws back in suburban London; they dispatch her brother-in-law Philip (Graves) to rescue her, but he is rebuffed by Lilia and her virile lover. But Lilia is miserable in her new mismatched marriage and dies soon after in childbirth; Philip and his puritanical sister Harriet (Davis) then return to Italy with Miss Abbott to get Lilia's baby at any cost. The story has often been classified as a comedy, despite the tragic deaths that occur in it, and the director, Charles Sturridge, plays up the comic elements of it considerably. Judy Davis dominates this film (as she does every film she's ever been in) with a raucous performance as a hysterical prude that is actually nicely shaded; while Bonham-Carter does much with the tough role of the unsteady Miss Abbott. Sturridge probably does not take as much advantage of the beautiful medieval towers of San Gimignano, where the work was filmed, as he should have, and relies too much on conversation (as might be expected from a director who has worked largely in television). But the film has nonetheless aged beautifully over the years (particularly since Davis's wild turn here is now less unexpected, and can be seen as more of a piece with her other later comic performances instead of as an aberration from her more subtle earlier dramatic work), and it deserves rediscovery in an American DVD version."
Perfect rendition of a glorious novel
Guildenstern | nowhereland | 09/22/2001
(5 out of 5 stars)
"I'm always very much torn as to whether I should review the book or the movie in these cases, especially since I'm in an accute stage of E. M. Forster worship; but that in mind, let it be known that the book is possibly my favorite ever, truly incredible, and doubly remarkable considering that it was his first true novel. BUT HERE is the movie review: What a splendid film this is. The casting is really beyond perfect. It's wonderful to see Helena Bonham Carter flourishing in a role that is by no means based on being physically beautiful, but rather, emotionally and spiritually so. She and Rupert Graves are highly de-glamorized by the costume/make-up crew and it's spectacular to see them shine through as wonderful personalities *without* their movie-star looks. Rupert Graves is quite brilliant; he portrays a man with (in Forster's words) "a sense of beauty and a sense of humour" but with no sense of life. As the story goes on you watch him waking up to the world around him, and by the end he is no longer the same person: a really wonderful and moving transformation. Judy Davis is superb as well; "acrid and indissoluable," snapping to an Italian landlady, "I don't care for the lot of you, I'm English!" The film is fantastic all in all: wonderfully paced, acted, shot. And it will move you to tears at the end."
Faithful adaptation of Forster's first novel
Susan K. Schoonover | Boulder, CO | 06/12/2007
(3 out of 5 stars)
"This filmed version of WHERE ANGELS FEAR TO TREAD is quite faithful to the novel. It is well acted especially by the three female leads - Helen Mirren as the doomed Lilia, Helena Bonham-Carter, looking less attractive than usual, playing the sensible parson's daughter, Caroline, and Judy Davis as the truly horrid spinster Harriet. As in the short novel the contrast between the restrained, judgmental Brits and the passionate warm hearted Italians is a main focus of the story. Perhaps the film deserves more than three stars but like in the book I find the tragic climax caused by the inept meddling of Harriet so maddening that is greatly lessens my enjoyment of the story. To make matters worse Gino's ability to forgive these awful Brits sickens rather than uplifts me. I actually feel guilty for laughing at the genuinely funny moments at the beginning of the story after the awfulness occurrs. And I take another star off because the film really needs to be subtitled due to the soft tones of the speakers as well as the British and Italian accents difficult for American ears to fully understand."
Where Angels Fear to Tread - At Long Last, EM Forster's Clas
Mark | East Coast | 02/18/2008
(4 out of 5 stars)
"Where Angels Fear to Tread
"Where Angels Fear to Tread" is based upon the classic E.M. Forster novel and features an all-star cast. Directed by Charles Sturridge, this production is full of subtlety and imagery. While this classic has flown under the radar, it's now available on DVD for many more people to enjoy.
The setting, like many of Forster's novels, is Edwardian England. That is contrasted against a sun-drenched Italian countryside that acts as an escape for many characters. The cinematography is used expertly to highlight the smoke in the train station, the light in the air, the feeling of travel, and so many other indescribable feelings.
Helen Mirren is wonderful as a widow well past middle age who strikes out on her own path against the norms of society and her well-off family. She escapes to Italy for a passionate love affair that produces a child. Her family wants to retrieve her and her baby from Italy but tragedy intervenes. Her family goes to Italy ready to reclaim their kin only to be set off course.
Helena Bonham Carter is also a standout as Caroline. She too is romanced in her journey to Italy by both man and country.
The story unfolds with twists and turns that allows the characters to come to life in a way seldom seen on film. Forster's world view is carried to film seamlessly.
So many English novels have been brought to film in the past 20 years, its refreshing to see it done so well and respectfully as in this movie. Where Angels Fear to Tread (Penguin Classics) This is a very good movie that leave you wondering why you never saw it before.