(James Ivory, 1992)
Reviewed by Dave Lancaster
Summary: A sumptuous period epic with delightful performances and plotting, Howards End will endure as a true classic.
One of Merchant/Ivory's biggest successes, Howards End bagged three well-deserved Oscars for Best Actress, Adapted Screenplay and Art/Set Direction while also racking up half a dozen more nominations including Picture, Director, Music, Costume Design, Cinematography and Supporting Actress.
But it takes more than a fistful of golden statues and box office receipts to see if a film will really stand the test of time. Howards End is one of those rare breeds that has perhaps even improved, its flavours and textures maturing to a point that one feels warmly nostalgic in its presence when that opening tracking shot and beautiful music stirs up as the opening titles roll.
The proceeding film is a mixture of restraint and whimsy; brutality and airiness; light and shadow as three diverse families intertwine for better and worse amid a backdrop of privileged Edwardian England. Emma Thompson and Helena Bonham Carter are divine as sisters undergoing a crisis of love that comes up against a stern head of another family played by Anthony Hopkins.
Hopkins was just coming off his Silence of the Lambs infamy when he dialled it down for a duo of James Ivory pictures: this and a beautiful performance in The Remains of the Day. It's hard to believe when watching Howards End that this is the same guy who was slurping and hissing his way through monologues about fava beans and serial killers a year or so before.
Every performance is sublime here while Ivory proves himself to be the master of adapting EM Forster's works for the screen (see also Maurice and A Room With a View). Existing fans and newcomers alike will want to pick up this new Blu-ray which looks fantastic and is supplemented by an additional Blu-ray of bonus materials including a trio of in-depth interviews with Ivory.
- Feature length audio commentary
- Cohen Merchant Ivory reel
- 2016 Conversation between James Ivory and Laurence Kardish
- 2016 Interview with James Ivory and Vanessa Redgrave at Cannes Film Festival
- 2016 On-stage Q&A with James Ivory and Michael Koresky at Lincoln Centre
- 1992 Behind-the-Scenes Short Featurette with comments by cast and crew
- Original theatrical trailer & 2016 re-release trailer