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|A Room with a View|
Theatrical release poster
|Directed by||James Ivory|
|Produced by||Ismail Merchant|
|Screenplay by||Ruth Prawer Jhabvala|
|Based on||A Room with a View|
by E. M. Forster
|Edited by||Humphrey Dixon|
|Distributed by||Curzon Film Distributors|
|Box office||$21 million|
A Room with a View is a 1985 British romance film directed by James Ivory, screenplay written by Ruth Prawer Jhabvala, and produced by Ismail Merchant, of E. M. Forster's novel of the same name (1908). The film closely follows the novel by use of chapter titles to distinguish thematic segments. Set in England and Italy, it is about a young woman named Lucy Honeychurch in the restrictive and repressed culture of Edwardian England, and her developing love for a free-spirited young man, George Emerson. It stars Helena Bonham Carter as Lucy and Julian Sands as George, and features Maggie Smith, Denholm Elliott, Daniel Day-Lewis, Judi Dench and Simon Callow in supporting roles.
The film received universal critical acclaim and was a box-office success. At the 59th Academy Awards, it was nominated for eight Academy Awards (including Best Picture), and won three: Best Adapted Screenplay, Best Art Direction, and Best Costume Design. It also won five British Academy Film Awards and a Golden Globe. In 1999, the British Film Institute placed A Room with a View 73rd on its list of the Top 100 British films of the 20th century.
Lucy Honeychurch (Helena Bonham Carter) is from an English village in Surrey and is on holiday in Italy with her much older cousin and chaperone, Charlotte Bartlett (Maggie Smith). Charlotte is conventionally English, with an extremely restrictive personality, and she tends to get her way by expressing her emotions to manipulate others. Lucy has been brought up in an upper-middle class but loving and easygoing household, and has fewer inhibitions, which creates strong tension between herself and Charlotte. They are contrasted with the more free-thinking and free-spirited backdrop of Italy.
At a small pensione in Florence, Lucy meets such people as the Reverend Mr. Beebe (Simon Callow), the two Misses Alan (Fabia Drake and Joan Henley), the author Eleanor Lavish (Judi Dench), but most importantly, the nonconformist Mr. Emerson (Denholm Elliott) and his handsome, philosophical son, George (Julian Sands), who becomes friends with Lucy. These men, although also English, represent the forward-thinking ideals of the turn-of-the-century, seeking to leave behind the repression and caution that was the norm in Victorian times.
At first, the Emersons seem strange and unfamiliar to Charlotte and Lucy. The men seem sincere but unaware of finer upper-class Victorian manners. Mr. Emerson offers to switch rooms with the women, who desire a room with a view. Charlotte is offended, believing him to be rude and tactless for what she perceives to be indebting them with his offer. As Lucy begins her journey to maturity, she finds herself drawn to George due to his mysterious thinking and readily expressed emotions.
A number of people staying at the pension take a carriage ride in the country. A mischievous Italian driver gets back at Charlotte by misdirecting an unchaperoned Lucy to George in a barley field as he admires the view. George suddenly embraces and passionately kisses Lucy as she approaches him. Charlotte has followed Lucy, witnesses the act, and quickly stops the intimacy. George's unreserved passion shocks Lucy, but also lights a secret desire and romance in her heart. Charlotte suggests that George kissing her was the act of a rake.
Charlotte makes reference to a heartbreak from her youth that occurred the same way and has behaved accordingly with disgust and anger toward George. Charlotte uses guilt to coerce Lucy to secrecy to save both their reputations as a young lady and a chaperone, but it is mostly for her own benefit. Normally, if a young man kissed a young lady, an engagement should be announced to preserve her reputation, but Charlotte considers George to be an undesirable influence.
Upon returning to England, Lucy tells her mother nothing and pretends to forget the incident. She accepts a marriage proposal from a wealthy and respectable but snobbish and pretentious man named Cecil Vyse (Daniel Day-Lewis). Cecil seems lacking in personality or emotion, and instead of playing tennis with her, prefers to walk around outside, reading aloud from a novel. However, she soon learns that George's father is moving to her small village and will be a neighbour due to a coincidence of Cecil having invited the Emersons, during a chance meeting in London, to rent an empty cottage in the village (an invitation which Lucy had already given to the Miss Alans). After Lucy's brother, Freddy (Rupert Graves), meets George, they and Mr. Beebe go skinnydipping in a nearby pond. Lucy, her mother, and Cecil go for a walk in the woods and come upon the three men cavorting in the nude.
The appearance of George in the village soon disrupts Lucy's plans and causes her suppressed feelings to resurface, complicated by the supposed need for secrecy. Lucy consistently refuses George's pursuit of her, but then she suddenly breaks off her engagement to Cecil and makes plans to visit Greece. George has also decided that he must move for peace of mind and makes arrangements. Lucy stops by Mr. Beebe's home and is confronted by George's father before the Emersons are to leave town. She suddenly realises that the only reason that she planned to travel was to escape her feelings for George. At the end, we see George and Lucy in the Italian pension where they met, in the room with the view, happily married.
A Room With a View was filmed extensively on location in Florence, but also in London and around the town of Sevenoaks in Kent. Lucy's engagement party was filmed in the grounds of Emmetts Garden. Foxwold House near Chiddingstone was used for the Honeychurch house and an artificial pond was built in the forest of the property to use as the Sacred Lake. Two years later, the Great Storm of 1987 would tear through the area and destroy the gardens and almost 80 acres of the surrounding forest. In London, the Linley Sambourne House in South Kensington was used for Cecil's house and the Estonian Legation on Queensway was used for the boarding house where the Miss Alans live.
The film made $4.4 million at the US box office in the first 12 weeks of release.
The film received positive reviews from critics, currently holding a 100% rating on Rotten Tomatoes. Roger Ebert gave the film four out of four stars, writing: "It is an intellectual film, but intellectual about emotions: It encourages us to think about how we feel, instead of simply acting on our feelings."