(For those following at home, Lisa is attempting to clean out her DVR by watching and reviewing 38 films by the end of today!!!!! Will she make it? Keep following the site to find out!)
Poor Cecil Vyse.
The 1986 film A Room With A View is a love story. It’s about a young woman who meets a young man in Florence, Italy and then, upon returning to England, she discovers that the same young man and his father are now her neighbors. From the minutes they meet, it’s obvious that the young man and the young woman are destined to be together. The only thing that’s standing in their way is the strict culture of conformity of Edwardian England. That and the fact that the young woman is engaged to Cecil Vyse.
Cecil represents the establishment. He comes from a good family. He’s well-educated. He talks about the right subjects. He holds all the right opinions. He’s not an exciting man but he’s a good man who is destined to have successful but not very interesting life. From the minute that we meet him, we know that our heroine is not meant to stay with Cecil.
And it’s heart-breaking because the film goes out of its way to show that Cecil is not a bad person. In his own befuddled way, he’s one of the most likable people in the entire film. He may not have an interesting mind but he does have a good heart. When the moment comes that Cecil’s heart is broken, the film treats him with respect.
Of course, it helps that Cecil was played, in one of his first roles, by Daniel Day-Lewis. Day-Lewis plays the role with a quiet dignity. Instead of just turning Cecil into a mere nuisance that has to be pushed out of the way in the name of love, Day-Lewis emphasizes Cecil’s humanity. There’s a quiet scene where the recently heart-broken Cecil ties his shoes that is an example of truly great acting.
As for the two young lovers, Lucy Honeychurch is played by Helena Bonham Carter while George Emerson is played by Julian Sands. Both of them are achingly beautiful and, even more importantly, they both look as if they belong in Edward England and with each other. Still, seeing this film today, it takes a little while to adjust to seeing both Bonham Carter and Sands playing such … normal characters. We’re so used to seeing Helena killing people in Tim Burton movies that it’s nice to see her getting to rather sweetly fall in love for once.
The entire film is full of great British actors, all at their best. Denholm Elliott plays George’s father and gets to deliver a rousing defense of both true love and free thought. Maggie Smith plays Lucy’s overprotective aunt while Rosemary Leach is Lucy’s supportive mother. And then you’ve got Simon Callow as an eccentric vicar. (Because every British film needs an eccentric vicar.) Lucy’s younger brother is played by an actor named Rupert Graves and he’s so adorable that I kind of found myself wishing that he could have had a spin-off movie of his own.
A Room With A View is a wonderfully romantic film, one that I could easily see myself spending days just watching over and over again. A Room With A View was nominated for best picture but it lost to the far less romantic Platoon.
(For those following at home, I now have one more review to go to reach my goal of reviewing 38 films in 10 days!)