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Room With A View, A (1986)

A Room With a View, based on E.M. Forster’s third book (by his own admission one of his least successful works), dates back to 1908 and concerns a visit to Florence by an impressionable, proper, and rather dopey young woman named Lucy Honeychurch (Helena Bonham-Carter), who is in the charge of her stuffy, ridiculous old maiden aunt, Miss Charlotte Bartlett (Maggie Smith).

The ladies are chagrined to discover their room at the Pensione Bertolini has no view from the window.

This admission over dinner prompts an act of chivalry from Emerson (Denholm Elliott), a particularly obnoxious tourist, and his son George (Julian Sands), a quiet, depressed young man with no singularity of personality.

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What emerges are the manners and mores of people so stuffy and constipated that the mere idea of a man in his bath is profoundly unsettling.

Lucy and her aunt exchange rooms, blushing profusely, and the rest of the visit to Florence is spent wandering among the frescoes and cathedrals but absorbing none of the city’s grandeur – imposing instead a stupid vulgarity of their own.

Back in England, Lucy becomes engaged to a prissy jerk called Cecil Vyse (beautifully played by Daniel Day-Lewis). At the garden party for their engagement, everyone talks of train schedules.

The film moves to Surrey, where a series of tableaux vivants occur with little relevance.

Lucy is now living with mother (Rosemary Leach) and younger brother Freddy (Rupert Graves), and soon settles back into a young woman’s pastoral existence.

It turns out that there is a vacant cottage in the area and Lucy suggests Catherine and Teresa Alan as possible tenants. Freddy has another idea.

On a recent trip to London, he met a father and son who he thinks might make good neighbours, none other than Mr Emerson and George.

Thinking the two to be wildly eccentric, Freddy intends his invitation as a joke, but Mr Emerson accepts and moves into the area.

In time, George and Freddy become good friends and play many games of tennis and enjoy naked swimming at the house. Lucy tries to avoid paying attention to George, but there is no doubt her feelings are beginning to mount for the charming young man.

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One day George kisses Lucy once again and then follows this by proclaiming his love and warning Lucy against marrying Cecil.

Lucy must now make a decision. Does she take the safe and sound and surely dull life with Cecil, or does she allow her feelings for George to emerge? She can’t have it both ways, but she does break off her engagement with Cecil and plans to go to Greece with the Alan sisters.

Charlotte and Mr Emerson intervene and Lucy and George are reunited. They marry and spend their blissful honeymoon in Florence, in the same pensione they met; naturally, the room they occupy is the one with a view.

A Room With a View is ponderous, beautiful to look at, and maddeningly inconsequential.

Lucy Honeychurch
Helena Bonham-Carter
Charlotte Bartlett
Maggie Smith
Mr Emerson
Denholm Elliott
George Emerson
Julian Sands
Cecil Vyse
Daniel Day-Lewis
The Reverend Mr Beebe
Simon Callow
The Reverend Mr Eager
Patrick Godfrey
Miss Lavish

Judi Dench
Miss Catharine Alan

Fabia Drake
Teresa Alan

Joan Henley
The Cockney Signora

Amanda Walker
Mrs Honeychurch
Rosemary Leach
Freddy
Rupert Graves

Director
James Ivory