Film Reviews

These are a collection of reviews that I have picked up in magazines and newspapers of some of the Forster films. There are not many here at the moment, so if you spot any and feel like typing them up and sending them to me, I would be extremely grateful. You would also be credited.

Online Film Reviews

Howards End - Washington Post review of Howards End

Where Angels Fear to Tread - The Tech review of WAFTT

From The Observer, 4 July 1999

A Room With a View

The Merchant-Ivory costume drama you can watch between meals without ruining your appetite, this E.M. Forster adaptation is elegant to the last, whether frolicking in the Florentine hills, or busting out of an arranged marriage in Surrey (it only cost a prudent $3 million - against which three Oscars and eight nominations seems a healthy return). Helena Bonham Carter was so right as Lucy Honeychurch she never really managed to put the bustle behind her. Daniel Day-Lewis, Maggie Smith and a tackle-revealing Simon Callow are all absolutely marvellous, darling.

From Radio Times 10 - 16 July 1999

A Room with a View

Having toiled valiantly with the stubbornly uncinematic Henry James (The Europeans, The Bostonians), the Merchant-Ivory production team turned to the more accessible EM Forster for its next odyssey into our Edwardian past. Initially, director James Ivory was keen to escape the costume-drama niche into which he was being backed, but the sheer wit of Forster's 1908 comedy of manners worked its spell on him.

As in any literary dramatization, there are longuers, but the air of bygone innocence and charm is irrestistable. While the later Howards End gained real international attention, this is the more faithful and, in many ways, more influential picture, as it confirmed the marketability of the "heritage" film that was to remain British cinema's most profitable export for over a decade.

Everything about the production proclaims its class: Ruth Prawer Jhabvala's dialogue is droll and erudite, while Tony Pierce-Robert's images of Florence and the English countryside shimmer with the beauty of idealised history. The acting is mostly of masterclass quality, with Maggie Smith fussily prim, Helena Bonham Carter delightfully spirited and Denhom Elliot a perfect "reasonable" man. But it's Daniel Day Lewis's fastidious snob that is the most remarkble creation, especially bearing in mind he had just finished playing the gay rebel in My Beautiful Laundrette.

The film won Oscars for its screenplay, art direction and costumes, and also scooped the Bafta for best picture.

From The Guardian 10 July 1999

A Room with a View

Impressive screen adaptation of EM Forster's novel about the awakening of a young woman in pre-Chiantishire Tuscany. Helena Bonham Carter - the prissy miss Merchant/Ivory version, rather than the reinvented sensual romantic of The Wings Of A Dove - is the Home Counties gel feeling the Italien heat in a stately drama that's never dull, exactly, but not that exciting either.

From The Guardian 31 July 1999

Howards End

Forster's novel gets the stately Merchant-Ivory treatment, and scooped a hat-trick of Oscars - Emma Thompson's acting, Ruth Prawer Jhabvala's script and Luciana Arrighi's design. Miss Goody-Two-Shoes Margaret Schlegel (Thompson) takes on the hard-nosed Wilcox family, led by patriarchal Anthony Hopkins in an assured period piece. You get exactly what you expect - except perhaps for finding yourself rooting for saintly Margaret at the end.

From The Observer 25 July 1999

Howards End

The Ismail Merchant, James Ivory and Ruth Prawer Jhabvala team had done nothing better than this perfectly judged version of E.M. Forster's 1910 novel about class, money, morality and personal responsibility in Edwardian England. The book has resonated over 90 years and the film retains its urgency, though oddly the epigraph 'Only Connect', is not mentioned. Emma Thompson and Anthony Hopkins head a perfect cast and the picture won three of the 10 Oscars - best actress, best script and best design - for which it was nominated.

From The Radio Times 25-31 March 2000

A Passage to India

Nominated for 11 Academy Awards, David Lean's final feature trespasses on territory usually reserved for Merchant/Ivory. But Lean was the master of the stately epic and, in this lusciously photographed picture, the 75 year old director showed that none of his powers had waned. Stripping away the sheen of Raj life, he exposes the tensions, prejudices and snobberies of imperialism with a satirical blade. Oscar-winning Peggy Ashcroft garnered the acting headlines, but she is surpassed by Judy Davis as the outsider whose disregard for rules shatters the calm of this Indian Eden.

From The Radio Times 1-7 April 2000

Howards End

This adaptation of EM Forster's novel is the best film made by the long-established team of director James Ivory, producer Ismail Merchant and writer Ruth Prawer Jhabvala. It has an elegance that never hides grim insights into the upper-middle classes. Matriarchal Ruth Wilcox (Vanessa Redgrave)dies after writing a letter bequeathing her country home to new friend Margaret Schlegel (Emma Thompson). But the note is destroyed by the Wilcox family, whose head (Anthony Hopkins) then falls in love with Margaret. One of the finest conversions of a novel to cinema.

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