Wednesday, August 7, 2013

A Room With A View (2007)

Not too long ago I reviewed A Room With A View (1985) (Read my review) and received some questions about this newer version. I had seen this film once before but couldn't remember very much about it so I re-watched it and also listened to the book on LibriVox (book review coming soon!). A Room With A View (2007) was better than the 1985 film in some ways but worse in others.

Story: Florence, Italy, 1912. Lucy Honeychurch is eager for adventure, but finds herself in a safe haven of English tourists, spinsters and clergymen. Add to this the huge disappointment of rooms without views contrary to what they were promised.  When fellow guests, the socialist Mr. Emerson and his railway worker son George, step into remedy the situation sparks fly between Lucy and George, but Lucy does her best to ignore them. After an astute observer purposefully mistranslates her request for the good men (clergymen) and sends her into the arms of "a good man," Lucy receives a passionate kiss from George in the middle of a field of poppies. Meeting the Emersons could change Lucy's life forever but, once back in England, how will her experiences in Italy effect her marriage plans to the most suitable Cecil Vyse?

Scenery: Very nice, not quite as grand as the 1985 version but it is made for TV so the colors are more gentle and not quite as bright. A great deal of Florence was shown but many of the scenes were not as grand as the older version.

Music: Light and pretty. Composed by Gabriel Yared who has composed mostly for French films but has done a few films I've seen before.

Costumes: The cut of the clothes seemed a bit later than in the 1985 film, less poofy and more like the first season of Downton Abbey in many ways (one of Lucy's dresses was even worn by Lady Edith!).  

Objectionable Content: In some ways it is better than the 1985 film but in some ways it is a bit worse. So the scenes aren't of full nudity but there are more questionable scenes scattered through the whole film. George Emerson talks to Lucy in the hallway, having just come from a bath he has a towel wrapped around his waist. There are four intense kisses between the hero and heroine, the first two they are completely clothed, in the last two it is indicated that the gentleman is undressed and then that both are characters are undressed (only their bare shoulders are shown). At the end of the film the two main characters are shown in bed together (although only their faces are seen) and later they lay in bed (covered by a blanket) and talk. The bathing scene seems to be less objectionable in this film than in the 1985 film, frontal nudity is not shown but bare backsides are. I watched most of this one and the part where Lucy, her mother and Mr. Vyse meet up with the three bathers is quite funny and a lot more like the book.

Characters & Actors:
  • Elaine Cassidy as Lucy Honeychurch - Lucy is the heroine of the story, a rather quiet and thoughtful young lady with a bit of an artistic temperament. After growing up in an English country village she is ready for adventure in Italy. In this role I actually didn't like her as much as Helena Bonham-Carter. Elaine seemed a bit older to me, a bit more acquainted with the world and seems to know what she wants a bit more. She also here seems to enjoy George Emerson's attentions more and almost seems to ask for them. She works better as the older Lucy, smart and bright, and although she's very pretty I just don't get the same feel for the character.
  • Sophie Thompson as Charlotte Bartlett - Lucy's chaperon who is very particular about how things are done and keeping to propriety and watching how things might look to others. She also has a tendency to make others feel bad for her to get what she wants. Sophie Thompson get the making others feel sorry for her but she whines a bit too much is too over-emotional. The secrets Charlotte has are more believable in this weaker version than in the stronger version of the book and the 1985 film. 
  • Timothy Spall as Mr. Emerson - He's a straightforward kind of person with no nonsense about him. He is a bit odd at times and has a lot to say but his heart is always in the right place. He wants his son to have a purpose in life and tries to direct him on the right path. I prefer Mr. Elliott's portrayal to Timothy Spall in the newer adaptation. Timothy Spall is a bit rougher, grittier in his portrayal and a lot more of Mr. Emerson's atheist beliefs come out in this film. He's a wonderful actor but his speeches to Lucy didn't seem as heartfelt as the 1985 version. 
  • Rafe Spall as George Emerson - He's quiet and rather listless at first not finding much to interest him in life. He has a very kind heart though and cares deeply about the things in life that really matter. When he meets Lucy he immediately likes her and you can tell his love for her is genuine because he starts taking an interest in life and becoming all that he could be. He helps Lucy out of a few scrapes and is always gentlemanly. Rafe Spall is more my idea of the character after listening to the book. He's a big chap and a bit handsome so it's fairly easy to like him. His scenes are often breezed through though and I don't think his words to Lucy often hit home as well as the 1985 film does, especially at the end. It was neat seeing him act alongside his father Timothy Spall! 
  • Mark Williams as Reverend Mr. Beebe - The new vicar of Lucy's home town who she and Charlotte meet by chance in Italy. The insightful Mr. Beebe is a very necessary character because he often interprets the silences and helps Lucy understand herself. Mark Williams was interesting in the role, more boyish and academic like in the book. He actually make the character a lot of fun to watch but still helping Lucy through decisions she needs to make. I liked him a lot more than Simon Callow but he was still a bit different than in the book.
  • Sinead Cusack as Eleanor Lavish - A free thinking romance writer who Lucy and Charlotte meet and befriend in Italy. She is adventurous and clever though essentially a silly tourist. As much as I loved Judi Dench in the 1985 version I preferred Sinead Cusack's more open and less businesslike take on the character, it seemed more in keeping with the book too. She was another fun character to watch in this film and it was neat to see her do another period drama role since Mr. Thornton in North & South (2004).
  • Elizabeth McGovern as Mrs. Honeychurch - Lucy's mother who features much in the latter part of the movie when Lucy is back at home. She is very kind and wants the best for her children although she doesn't always know how to help them. As a widow she also longs to have Lucy settled and provided for. I actually didn't care for Elizabeth McGovern in this role very much. She was okay but too much like Lady Cora in Downton Abbey.
  • Tom Byam Shaw as Freddy Honeychurch - Lucy's younger brother who is quite annoying at times! Freddy is a troublemaker sometimes but often moves the story along by telling others things they should know but that Lucy won't tell them. Tom wasn't as memorable as Rupert Graves in the 1985 film but he was still fun and interesting.
  • Laurence Fox as Cecil Vyse - Lucy's fiance who is very proper but very stuck up. Only Laurence Fox has a take on the character which is much different than the 1985 film or the book really. He was much more likable, but more of his despising simple country life came out. His portrayal didn't really work for me, he didn't even wear glasses, and he smoked constantly. He was odd but not so odd that you couldn't like Cecil and Lucy together. More of an artistic temperament and his clothing also suggested artist. I like Laurence Fox a lot but this role was just weird for him.
  • Timothy West as Reverend Eager - This is a character I didn't mention in my review of the 1985 film but he's actually quite a big part of the story that takes part in Italy. Timothy West is a wonderful period drama actor and he did a very good job portraying the uptight clergyman who thinks he knows so much about Italians. 

My Thoughts: A Room With A View (2007) is quite like the book in many ways but different in others. It has the added plot details of telling the story from an older Lucy's point of view. That element is interesting and adds a bittersweet element but I'm not sure if I like it. I don't like the casting of the characters as much as in the 1985 version, but it is neat to see the actors in another period drama. It is cleaner than the 1985 film in some ways but also has some inappropriate content and is almost worse in others. Overall it's a neat story and I do like it for the most part. 

My Recommendations: I can't recommend it wholeheartedly so I'm not sure I should recommend it at all. It's a nice story but this film does have some brief scenes that could be considered objectionable. Older views can watch at their own discretion and fast forward whatever scenes they want.
After listening to an audio recording of the book I can highly recommend that. Hopefully I'll be able to review it soon.

Have you seen A Room With A View (2007)? How about the 1985 version?

Any thoughts about the costumes featured in these photos?


Anonymous said...

I enjoyed reading both of your reviews of A Room With a View. They are very informative and fun to read, especially because A Room With a View is a film I've been curious about watching for some time. I'm not sure I'll go with the 2007 version, as the ending sounds rather irritating (I usually like happy endings in films, unless the film is trying to make a point by a sad or bittersweet ending) and the objectionable content not that much less than the 1985. If it isn't too much trouble, I was wondering if you knew at about which scene to start and stop fast-forwarding (as in the scene right before the objectionable scene and the scene right after it) the objectionable scene on the 1985 version, so I don't have to see anything.

Jessica said...

I watched most of this recently on youtube. But I had to fast forward so much towards the end to make sure I avoided seeing anything I didn't want to, that my enjoyment in the movie was spoiled. I didn't really like the older Lucy looking back aspect, either. It seemed too sad.
And the murder scene was quite disturbing because it was so abrupt.

Ivy said...

I haven't seen either version, but according to your recommendation I'd prefer the audio book. I enjoy listening to audio books while on long drives.

Kenyaa McadamR said...

Interesting commentary on the characters of this, one of my favourite movies of all time. I have watched it a dozen times and the actors really take me in to their lives. I can feel the love and the pain. I watched this first, then the 1985 version but I found that didn't have the power that this one does. The music has a lot to do with it ... it is powerful at just the right moment. I've tried watching the 85 version, but to me it doesn't have the momentum. Could be that I know and love the characters of 07.

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