Monday, March 9, 2015

Movie Monday: A Room With a View

A Room With a View
When opportunity arises, I feature Movie Monday. I recognize few people have the time or desire to read the amount I do, especially when it comes to the 100 Best Novels list. Luckily, Hollywood loves adapting a classic and I love a good story in any form.

When I read A Room With a View last spring, I found it "quite charming." Not surprising, really. We all know how I love stories set in the Edwardian era. 

There are two adaptations of the story, that I know of. One is a movie version from a ways back. This one, however, is a Masterpiece adaptation from 2007. And, being the Masterpiece fan that I am, I knew I had to start here.

You can go back to my review of the book to read more of the story. Today, I am going to focus on the tv movie adaptation itself. 

I really liked the opening speech from Masterpiece. This is an aspect of their programming that I always enjoy. I think having some poignant remarks about the program before it begins helps the viewer understand that what they are about to see is not meant as strictly entertainment, but art as well. As someone who spends her days teaching students the difference between fine art and entertainment, this is important to me. I think we miss out on a lot of good potential discussion about art on tv. To me, the little Masterpiece speech is an addition to that conversation. I'll never turn that down.

As the movie opened, I was a bit surprised to find it began with Lucy years down the road. That was an addition to the original novel. Typically, I'm not in favor of these additions and I hold fast to that here. I liked it at the start because I thought it was previewing the end of the novel, when she is with George. However, the screen writers apparently decided that the story needed an extra framing. I did not like that. The original story is great. No additional scenes from years in the future needed to be added.

Speaking of my students, Lucy totally reminded me of them as she wandered around looking at the great art of Italy. I loved watching her in awe/shock at all those naked sculptures. I see the same reactions on my students all the time. Right now, I teach at a pretty conservative Christian university so, for some of my students, my class is the first time they have ever seen nude art...or any nudity. Lucy's response here is exactly what I hope for from them. 

I very much enjoyed the cast in this adaptation. I've enjoyed Elaine Cassidy in The Paradise on PBS, so it was fun to see her here. Plus, Elizabeth McGovern (Lady Grantham in Downton Abbey) starred as Lucy's mother. Laurence Fox was masterful as Cecil Vyse. I hated him from the very moment he stepped onto the screen, just as I should have.  Also, it was funny to see Timothy Spall as Mr. Emerson, since I primarily know his as Peter Pettigrew in the Harry Potter series. 

One particular thing I appreciated was how the actors and director made such a stark difference between Lucy's kiss with George and her first kiss with Cecil. Though they are technically the same act, they are night and day when it comes to desire and Lucy's experience. The cinematography and performances showed that beautifully. The contrast there was probably a highlight of the film for me.

Overall, I enjoyed this. It was a great movie to have on while I worked on other things. I thought it was a decent adaptation, although it could have been better. Judging it independently from the book, it was a great Masterpiece effort. And I do so love their stuff. 

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