HOWARDS END (PG)
D: James Ivory
Film Four/Merchant Ivory (Ismail Merchant)
W: Ruth Prawer Jhabvala [based on the novel by E. M. Forster]
DP: Tony Pierce-Roberts
Ed: Andrew Marcus
Mus: Richard Robbins
PD: Luciana Arrighi
Cos: Jenny Beavan & John Bright
Anthony Hopkins (Henry Wilcox), Emma Thompson (Margaret Schlegel), Vanessa Redgrave (Ruth Wilcox), Helena Bonham-Carter (Helen Schlegel), Sam West (Leonard Bast), Prunella Scales (Aunt Juley)
Period dramas are an esoteric genre, you'll either love them or hate them, with very little ground in-between.
Arguably, Merchant Ivory do the best period dramas, particularly when adapting the literary works of E. M. Forster, whose novel "A Room With A View" was earlier adapted by the same production team in the mid-1980s.
Howard End is more a comedy of manners than a period drama, a study of the ruling, middle and working class in the early 20th century.
Howards End is a country house belonging to the upper class Wilcox family. Bequeathed in a will by the terminally ill Ruth Wilcox to her free-spirited friend Margaret Schlegel, Henry Wilcox conceals this and marries Margaret so to keep the real estate in his own name.
Meanwhile, Margaret's sister Helen develops a relationship with banking clerk Leonard Bast, whose fortunes are also manipulated by the Wilcox family.
Even if period pictures aren't your bag, Howards End is still worth a watch, elegantly brought to screen by the producer-director combo of Merchant-Ivory, with their stalwart screenwriter Ruth Prawer Jhabvala once again adapting the prose.