Home Page > Movies Index (w/mixed oldies) > > Movie Review

This Review Reveals Minor Details About the Plot.

Groom's in a Stew

A Room with a View (1985) on IMDb

Plot Overview

Set in the late 1800s or early 1900s, on a trip to Florence, Italy, Charlotte Bartlett (Dame Maggie Smith) remarks to her younger cousin and charge Lucy Honey­church (Helena Bonham-Carter) that their pensione rooms don't offer any kind of a promised view. At dinner that night fellow guests Mr. Emerson and his son George (Julian Sands) whose rooms do have views—but they're not choosey—suggest, “We can change.” After some polite protest, the women give in (“We accept their offer.”)

While touring the sights Lucy finds herself exposed to a bloody altercation in the plaza, causing her to swoon … into the solicitous arms of George. This ignites a spark between them (“Some­thing's happened to me … and to you.”) Like a scene from a romance novel of Italy, “He simply enfolded her in his mannish arms,” was interrupted by her chaperone, and they're forced to forget it and go their separate ways.

Home in “our little corner of Surrey”, England, Lucy becomes “officially engaged” to a dour gentle­man Cecil Vyse (Daniel Day Lewis). Fate or coincidence makes room for George again. She's viewed as, “She did not look like a bride-to-be. She lacks radiance.” But she soldiers on (“You're in a muddle.”)


Cecil holds forth that, “The classes ought to intermix; I believe in democracy.” He's speaking from the aristocratic view of his people, but the Emersons are working class. There's also a difference between Lucy's family that's in tight with the church and the “free­thinking man and son.” Lucy's literature includes, The Life of St. Francis. Mr. Emerson's conversation with The Reverend Mr. Eager (Patrick Godfrey), Chaplain of the Anglican Church in Florence, went like this:

The Reverend Mr. Eager: “Remember the facts about this church of Santa Croce; how it was built by faith in the full fervour of medievalism.”

Mr. Emerson: “Built by faith indeed! That simply means the workers weren't paid properly.”

1 Corinthians 7Movies sometimes play upon unlikely (romantic) matches, and here Mr. Emerson requests that Lucy help a with­drawn George come out of his shell (“Please to try to help him.”) This she succeeds at beyond all expectation when George shouts out his emerging belief: “JOY! BEAUTY!”, “declaring the eternal Yes.” This is intimated in the apostle Paul who looked upon mixed marriage as an occasion for Christian influence on the unbelieving partner, (1Cor. 7:16) “For what knowest thou, O wife, whether thou shalt save thy husband? or how knowest thou, O man, whether thou shalt save thy wife?” Paul's answer in addressing some questions of the Corinthians appears to have been in the present tense, regarding an existing marriage of a Christian to an unbeliever, but he allows for such influence on an unbeliever to apply to developing composites as well, (1Cor. 3:21-22) “For all things are yours; Whether … the world, or … things present, or things to come; all are your's.”

Whether Lucy will proceed in the Lord is a matter for this movie to address, but let's borrow from the apostle's admonition to the widow to see what that might look like: (1Cor. 7:39) “but if her husband be dead, she is at liberty to be married to whom she will; only in the Lord.” To proceed in the Lord might entail, (John 12:26) “If any man serve me, let him follow me; and where I am, there shall also my servant be.” In this particular case, (Luke 15:4-6) “What man of you, having an hundred sheep, if he lose one of them, doth not leave the ninety and nine in the wilder­ness, and go after that which is lost, until he find it? And when he hath found it, he layeth it on his shoulders, rejoicing. And when he cometh home, he calleth together his friends and neighbours, saying unto them, Rejoice with me; for I have found my sheep which was lost.” If Lucy can see fit to leave her aristocratic fiancé to join up instead with her emerging George, that's the kind of happy ending movies are made for.

The problem is nobody save George is honest (“Everyone's been lying except George”), least of all Lucy with herself and with others. That's reflected in Paul's second letter to the Corinthians where he says he's, (2Cor. 4:2) “... not handling the word of God deceit­fully.” An example of deceit can be found when, (Gen. 34:13) “the sons of Jacob answered Shechem and Hamor his father deceitfully, and said, because he had defiled Dinah their sister.” They told them they were allowed to inter­marry but used it as a ruse to gain an advantage, because actually they weren't. Paul wasn't being deceitful, so after he tells us in first Corinthians a mixed marriage is permissible, he's not going to tell us in second Corinthians it's not. The proof text, (2Cor. 6:14) “Be ye not unequally yoked together with unbelievers: ...” often taken out of context and erroneously applied to mixed marriage, was but Paul's exhortation to the Corinthians not to mix other religions with their worship and service. In this movie it can be applied to Mr. Emerson intrudiing with his little coterie on an official tour of a museum interrupting the docent's exposition and forcing him to leave.

Production Values

This delightful movie, “A Room with a View” (1985) was directed by James Ivory. Its screen­play was written by Ruth Prawer Jhabvala based on the novel A Room with a View by E.M. Forster. It stars Helena Bonham Carter, Julian Sands, Denholm Elliott, Maggie Smith, Judi Dench, Daniel Day-Lewis and Simon Callow. The cast is spectacular. Bonham Carter is captivating as a young maiden. Judi Dench does a reckless bohemian authoress Eleanor Lavish, and Denholm Elliot is notable as Mr. Emerson. Daniel Day-Lewis gives a magnificent performance as a prissy aristocrat. The all-British cast hold up rather nicely.

This movie is not rated in the U.S., but how risque can a film be that's set in Edwardian times? There is, how­ever, a nude male bathing scene not uncommon in those times. It was filmed in England. It was beautifully orchestrated with Puccini operatic music from Beethoven's sonatas “Gianni Schicchi” and “La Rondine.” The London Philharmonic Orchestra knocked itself out. The music was mixed for a theater showing, how­ever, and may yield inconsistent results on a home system. Art & Set Design and Costume Design accurately reflected the story's era, by way of separate designers for Rome and England. Both the Italian and English settings are breath­taking. Artistically crafted inter­titles contributed to a stately pace.

Review Conclusion w/ Christian Recommendation

I saw this movie during a movie class at the University of Oregon where the director James Ivory had received his under­graduate degree in architecture. Unfortunately the viewing room was not designed for theater and the sound suffered accordingly. The volume was turned up so our geriatric crowd could under­stand the conversations, and then the operatic music was overbearing to the point where I put on industrial hearing protection for the high notes. If you have control of the volume knob, I suggest backing down on the volume so you don't get blasted later.

The movie itself was delightful and I highly recommend it.

Movie Ratings

Action Factor: Weak action scenes. Suitability for Children: Suitable for children 13+ years. Special effects: Average special effects. Video Occasion: Good Date Movie. Suspense: Keeps you on the edge of your seat. Overall product rating: Five stars out of five.