A Lavish Edwardian Romance as also told in a book…
Lucy shares an unexpected passionate kiss from a fellow Englishman on holiday. On her return home, she becomes engaged to someone else, then fate intervenes.
ACADEMY AWARD WINNER – A ROOM WITH A VIEW Trailer, Umbrella Entertainment
There are first kisses, and then there are movie first kisses. Be it, Colin Firth as Mark Darcy in the snow telling Bridget Jones that he loves her for being her – in Bridget Jones’ Diary (2001). Or after dance practice for a TV show dance off, with your hunky dance partner in Girls Just Want to Have Fun (1985). The more romantic of us hope for a first snog which feels like straight out of a movie. Or at least in your boots.
I watched A Room with a View (1985) as a romantic and wistful teen. Then I wanted desperately to be kissed passionately in a field of poppies, as the leading character does in this movie. Back then the romance of this movie was much more in my mind, than the themes or even the plot.
I was swept away by this romantic moment on reading the E M Forster novel of the same name, that this film was based on. In the novel where it’s violets, not poppies, these thoughts of romance hindered my learning about the more important themes in this part of my English school work.
This was a bit like when I was dragged to see Star Wars II: Attack of the Clones (20O2). In this later film, I can only remember Padame and Anakin falling down a hill laughing. The rest of the plot was immediately forgotten. So much so that I thought that the clones were referring to the robot army. But they aren’t, and this is a fact explained (again and again) by my (patient) Star Wars obsessed Darlin Husband.
The film A Room with a View takes us firstly to Florence, Italy in the early 1900s, in Edwardian times. Young Lucy Honeychurch (Helena Bonham Carter) is on holiday, albeit a chaperoned one with her much older cousin Charlotte (Maggie Smith). The women don’t have a view from their hotel window, which annoys them both terribly. This is not their only disappointment in their lodging.
Charlotte continues to harp on about it with Lucy over dinner. Her rant is within earshot of their dinner companions. These are Eleanor Lavish (Judi Dench) an overdramatic novelist, the down to earth Mr Emerson (Denholm Elliott), his philosophical son, George (Julian Sands) and two old dears, the Alan sisters.
After he overhears Lucy and Charlotte, Mr Emerson offers his and his son’s rooms. He says they both have views of the Arno, and Charlotte turns him down after a bit of a fuss, feeling it improper.
Lucy, then meets a familiar face from home, the village’s amiable vicar Mr Beebe (Simon Callow) who is also holidaying in Italy. Through his role as an intermediary, the women swap rooms with the Emersons. Later, Lucy ventures out without her chaperone (who for some reason is touring with Lavish) and she meets the Emersons.
During Mr Emerson’s more unconventional tour with Lucy, the Anglican minister is annoyed by his more radical views. Later Mr Emerson talks to Lucy about his concerns for George. George, he feels, is always questioning the world, but now talks of love and of Lucy.
Alone once more, Lucy witnesses a murder, and as she faints George scoops her up. After she comes round, the two then talk, and he agrees not to talk of her fainting episode. However, he feels something has happened between them.
During a visit to the Tuscany hillside, Eleanor and Charlotte gossip, while Lucy goes to find Mr Beebe. She asks the driver where he is and struggles up the hill with his help. Instead of Mr Beebe, she finds George alone in a barley field full of poppies. He turns around, then moves towards her effortlessly and embraces her and kisses her passionately.
But this one-sided kiss is interrupted by Charlotte. Charlotte whisks her away from him. Later she says that she’s met men like George before and they talk. Then she packs them both up and they return to England. Lucy and her promise not to talk of her kiss with Lucy’s mother.
In Surrey, England, Lucy becomes engaged to Cecil Vyse (Daniel Day Lewis), a rather pretentious, snobbish and prissy man. This match was made in upper-class heaven, but much to Lucy’s boisterous wee brother, Freddy’s (Rupert Graves) disappointment.
Cecil and Lucy share their first kiss, and it just isn’t as heartfelt or passionate as George’s kiss. It’s just awkward. On learning the villa near Mr Beebs is free Lucy writes to the Allans to recommend them this rental.
However, Cecil reveals he bumped into the Emersons in London. He tells how he recommended them this same place, and to upset the “snobbish” landlord. Lucy is annoyed at his interference (and surely it can’t be the same Emersons…).
On the Emersons arrival, it is the same father and son. George and Freddy become friends immediately. They go for a skinny dip in a wee nearby pond, and Mr Beebe joins them in their fun. On a walk with her mother and Cecil, Lucy sees (rather more of) George again as they bump into this trio.
Charlotte stays with the Honeychurches after she has a drama at home requiring a plumber. After missing her stop on the train, she bumps into George and is worried he’ll tell all. One day, Cecil reads from a book, as Lucy and Freddy play tennis with George and Freddy’s friend.
The book was written by Eleanor Lavish. As Cecil reads from the book to Lucy and George, Lavish’s book – also set in Italy – describes her lead characters’ first kiss. This scene sounds exactly like their encounter in the poppy field. They both return to the house to confront Charlotte for telling Lavish, and on the way, George kisses her once more. Lucy returns his kiss both tenderly and then passionately before she breaks away…
Helena Bonham Carter’s appearance as Lucy is as described in E M Forster’s novel. This film was the debut for this actress and she really was convincing and credible in her role. It was also a debut for Rupert Graves, who is fun and boisterous as her young brother.
Freddy’s character seems not to have expectations put onto him, unlike his older sister. In contrast to his character, Daniel Day Lewis is suitably prissy, pretentious, snobby and awkward as Cecil. These two characters showing how Lucy is inside, and is on the outside and expected to be respectively.
I adored Maggie Smith – who was nominated for an Oscar – in her role of a character who was comically fussy at times. Maggie made her character more likeable as the film progressed, as at first, I did find her a bit manipulative with her young charge.
Rosemary Leach playing Lucy’s mother appears to be a character not afraid to speak her mind, and Freddy sharing this attribute. It was clear these characters both had their concerns about Lucy’s relationship with Cecil.
Denholm Elliott in contrast gave a relaxed, down to earth performance of his honest character. Judi Dench was flamboyant and dramatic and I would have liked more scenes with this actress. As Mr Beebe, Simon Callow showed his character as more modern and less staid than the more conservative Anglican vicar in Italy. Beebe joined in the skinny dipping scene in England and in Italy he was more lenient of the Tuscan driver and his girlfriend’s kissing as they travelled in the countryside than the Italian based vicar.
Beebe also seemed to understand Lucy more than others. In several scenes Lucy is seen playing the piano, Beebe hears the passion in her playing. This passion in her piano playing can be compared to her outward self, as a woman keen to keep to the expectations and duties put onto her. As he comments that he hopes she will live as she plays, you can feel his shock as she gets engaged to Cecil. I feel this cast is just perfect in every way.
It was noted that E M Forster had provided an epilogue for these characters. I read however that there is an additional different ending for the 2007 remake of this novel. This 2007 version had a more adult storyline for Lucy and Mr Beebe (but not as a couple).
I didn’t know about these alternative endings and storylines until now. They are quite shocking, but not as shocking as Forster’s first draft of the book which had George cycle into a tree during a storm and die. Like the Dallas reboot, I had made my own version of what happened next.
Yes as for me, I’ll stick with this 1985 film version which won eight Oscar nominations. It is still as timeless and charming as it was when I first watched it. The film has stunning inviting Tuscan and Surrey inspiring vistas, gorgeous costumes and in film beautifully painted in-film titles corresponding with the book’s chapters. The film won three Oscars and a further 22 wins and 22 nominations including Baftas, Golden Globes and Cinematography awards.
A plot shows Lucy’s burgeoning love for George as sweet and innocent as ever, this leading to Lucy’s confusion about her love (and ultimately) life choices. George is a more hopeful and determined character, as he falls for her at first sight. However now, the deeper messages of the film seem more apparent. Rather than the 2007 version which appears not to see these traits important.
From the moment young Lucy – her hair in a tight bun – dramatically opens the shutters in the first scene this symbolising she is open to adventure or Italy to the final scenes where her hair is loose, carefree and… (I’ll let you find out the rest).
The characters show George and his father as the adventure and life she craves, Freddy as the person she was brought up as in Surrey and Cecil the life she is expected to conform to. So either read the Forster book or see this 1985 film to discover if Lucy will follow her heart or her head in life and love.
Weeper Rating: 😦 😦 😦 😦 😦 😦 😦 😦/10
Handsqueeze Rating: 🙂🙂🙂🙂🙂🙂🙂🙂🙂/10
Valentine’s Day Period Drama Blog Party 2021
This post was added to Along the Brandywine‘s Valentine’s Day Period Drama Blog Party. Other posts with this cast include Maggie Smith in Death on the Nile and Evil Under the Sun. Judi Dench stars in Chocolat and Spectre. Helena Bonham Carter stars in The Crown (in a later season). Denholm Elliott stars in Alfie, Robin and Marian, Voyage of the Damned, Madame Sin and Quest for Love. Simon Callow starred in Four Weddings and a Funeral, Doctor Who and in Outlander (in Season 1 and Season 2). Julian Sands starred in Oxford Blues. Rupert Graves stars in Death at a Funeral, Doctor Who and Ashes to Ashes.