movie film review | chris tookey
 
     
     
 

Remains Of The Day

 (U)
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  Remains Of The Day Review
Tookey's Rating
8 /10
 
Average Rating
8.14 /10
 
Starring
Anthony Hopkins (LONDON CRITICS' CIRCLE AWARD - ACTOR OF THE YEAR, AAN), Emma Thompson
Full Cast >
 

Directed by: James Ivory (LONDON CRITICS' CIRCLE AWARD - DIRECTOR OF THE YEAR, AAN)
Written by: Ruth Prawer Jhabvala from Kazuo Ishiguro's novel

 
 
 
Released: 1993
   
Genre: DRAMA
ROMANCE
COSTUME
   
Origin: US
   
Colour: C
   
Length: 138
 
 


 
A butler (Anthony Hopkins, pictured right) is torn three ways: between his love of a housekeeper (Emma Thompson, pictured left), his loyalty to his father (Peter Vaughan) and his professional duties.
Reviewed by Chris Tookey

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Merchant Ivory’s faithfulness to classics of English literature has always been assiduous to the point of deference, and sometimes to the point of tedium; so they were ideally suited to Kazuo Ishiguro’s excellent Booker prize-winning novel about a butler blinkered by a sense of duty to his cultural superiors, and rendered inarticulate when called upon to express passion.

Ever the professional himself, director James Ivory is a master of minutiae; and the workings of a great stately home are depicted in fascinating detail. The strengths of Ishiguro’s novel - his narrative structure, the parallels between private and public life, his sympathy for English stuffiness and reserve - have been carefully preserved in Ruth Prawer Jhabvala’s screenplay. Though occasionally too schematic and laborious, the film ends up as more touching than either A Room With A View or Howards End.

The main reason is Anthony Hopkins, who gives one of the greatest performances in the history of cinema. Every detail of posture, nuance of voice, change of expression, evidence of ageing, is subtle, exactly measured, yet apparently spontaneous. He is, as he has to be, heart-breaking.

Emma Thompson is less perfectly cast and not altogether convincing when called upon to act older than her years, but she exudes an appropriately crisp competence, leading to a series of moving emotional breakdowns which confirm her as one of the best actresses of her generation.

There isn’t a weak link among the other members of the cast, but outstanding support is given by James Fox and Peter Vaughan as the butler’s employer and father, both guilty of thoughtless oppression, yet both sympathetic in different ways.

The Remains of the Day is not easy to watch. It’s hard to see the humiliation of the central character, his inability to overcome his limitations, his chilling failure to embrace life, without wanting to step on to the screen, give Hopkins a good shaking, and yell “Snap out of it!” But that, of course, is a measure of the film’s artistic success.

"I can say it's simple now, but it's taken years to distil my work to a more economic form. I suppose I'm pretty adept now at playing these rather still parts."

(Anthony Hopkins)


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