A Room with a View

A Room with a View ★★★★

I am extremely pleased and surprisingly so. Period pieces often contain a posh and elegant look to them, making the costume and set designs appear nearly impeccable during every outing but they can also tend lose touch with their own characters and rendering their conflicts/emotions soulless after awhile. However this is my first brush with the Ivory/Merchant/Jhabvala collective and I must say that they are an entirely new kind of beast in adapting period piece models/classical literature adaptations. In fact I could go as far as to say that their one film here felt more genuine of the era and honest to its characters than most of their contemporaries.

So we have an American behind the camera in James Ivory directing while his Indian partner Ismail Merchant acts as producer and their German writer Ruth Prawer Jhabvala crafts the scripts. It's one hell of a team put together crafting some of the best known period pieces in the 80's-90's. What stands out immediately more than any other aspect of their film is the visuals and this goes beyond just flashy costumes and sets but the cinematography truly is stunning. There is a palette of colors reminiscent of the way Douglas Sirk would have them illuminated against certain backdrops contrasted/compared to the characters that simply fills the screen with wonder. The initial scenes in Italy leading into the more rural parts of England provide beautiful shots of the locale romanticizing the film perhaps more than the characters could.

However don't be alarmed, Ivory has a near perfect cast here and the way Jhabvala writes these characters not only in their relationships with one another but in how they come back to each other out of pure coincidence is utterly brilliant. Helena Bonham Carter actually looks normal compared to her Tim Burton transformation later in her career and the majority of the time I forgot it was even her as she just carries herself as a completely different actress then. Maggie Smith was lovely and young as a misguided and overbearing older cousin while Daniel Day Lewis can add another new role immersion to his résumé of playing the epitome of a high class stuck up socialite. Day-Lewis's performance despite being unlikable was incredibly remarkable and when compared to the other well known period piece of Martin Scorcese in which he starred Age of Innocence, his characters could not be more different and this is just another testament to the many examples of his infinite range. Also spot an early supporting role of Judi Dench as a romantic author that makes an obtrusive non-appearance later in the film that is honestly quite funny.

That brings another aspect to mention about the film being humorous and lighthearted at times. The combination between that and the seriousness of their involvement allowed for a much more smooth playing film in terms of tone and pacing. I think one can credit alot of the subtle humor to the bumbling but kindhearted reverend Mr. Beebe played by Simon Callow while his, Sands, and Graves naked bathing experience in the woods was a great laugh out loud experience. A Room with a View has far excelled any expectations that I may have had for it and I am curious to look further into the Ivory/Merchant/Jhabvala collective too see if I am perhaps missing out on the work of some modern day masters.