Starring: Helena Bonham Carter, Maggie Smith, Daniel Day-Lewis
Director: James Ivory
Running Time: 117 mins
A Room With A View is a British film about a young woman who, feeling suffocated by the strict social codes of Edwardian England, falls in love with a free-spirited man during a holiday to Florence.
This is just a hugely pleasant romantic drama. In general, it’s not particularly taxing to watch, and so you can enjoy its impressive visual beauty, as well as some enjoyable performances, and although it doesn’t necessarily hit home when it comes to emotional impact, the love story that develops throughout is still pretty interesting to follow.
My personal favourite part of this film is its fantastic imagery. From the picturesque landscape shots of sunny Tuscany and the centre of beautiful Florence, to the lush English countryside, there’s always staggeringly beautiful shots throughout the film. What’s more is that it manages to do the costume design of period drama right.
Normally, I struggle with the look of period dramas because it all appears so brown and gloomy, and although that is definitely a historically accurate portrayal, it never complements stories that are meant to be pleasant. However, A Room With A View’s costume design is wonderful, both looking elegant as well as historically accurate, and that really had a significant impact on how much I enjoyed this film, simply because it made it even nicer to look at.
The performances in the film are also very good. A young Helena Bonham Carter shines, whilst Maggie Smith and Denholm Elliott are also fantastic as some of the elder figures in the story. I wasn’t so sold on Daniel Day-Lewis’ overly stiff portrayal of an English gentleman, and Julian Sands wasn’t so amazing either as the free-spirited young man who the woman falls in love with, but still, the acting in general was pretty strong.
Finally, let’s talk about the story. The first act, set in Florence, was wonderful. It was a laid-back, funny and enjoyable portrayal of a holiday in Florence, and yet remained interesting by showing the severity of Edwardian customs, particularly in stark contrast to a lot of the Italians.
The second act (set back in England), however, wasn’t so great. Yes, the love story continues throughout, but it doesn’t really develop at all over a period of about half an hour, and so it can get a little boring, or at least frustrating in that time. The themes about Edwardian culture remain, but by the end, I wasn’t so captivated or entertained by the story, and that disappointed me.
Overall, however, A Room With A View is a delightful film, with a lot of heart and some good humour, a few strong performances, and amazingly beautiful visual imagery and costume design, and that’s why it gets a 7.4 from me.