I am surprised this film is not considered a classic. I think it possesses many of the elements that other classics do. Or perhaps that is just what I see only in my minds eye. For me, this film reads like a Jane Austen novel yet it is set in the Edwardian Era and in takes place in two very important geographic locations. One of which being the lovely, picturesque city of Florence. Where the music and art are pleasing to all five senses. The second being the lovely Surrey (SURREY! THAT’S WHERE I GREW UP) which can feel a bit more staunch or reserved when it comes to social practice though it is a gentle and polite environment in which to relax in. The settings themselves enhance the action of the story as each one either accentuates through contrast or absorbs the characters within itself. The plot can very easily be summed up by one of the film’s own characters, Eleanor Lavish, an expatriate British novelist known for her pulpy yet popular prose.
"A young girl, transfigured by Italy! And why shouldn't she be transfigured? It happened to the Goths!"
It is rare that we find a movie in which Dame Judi Dench and Dame Maggie Smith get to share a screen. These heralded actresses have been good friends for decades and yet they’ve only appeared in five movies total (don’t you worry. The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel will indeed be up for discussion one week). Other recognizable faces make their first impressions on the silver screen in this film. Most notably miss Helena Bonham Carter is debuted in the leading role. Other actors featured early on in their careers are Rupert Graves (Death at a Funeral, Sherlock) and Daniel Day-Lewis (Literally any movie. Pick any movie. He’s in it). The film was released in 1985. A Room with a View was made by British Director/Producer pair Merchant Ivory and written by Ruth Prawer Jhabvala.
Like any great piece set in the Edwardian Era, class is an outlined topic brought up. Yet in the way it is done, it seems only to reflect and distinguish in a bad light those peripheral characters who bring it up disparagingly toward their “subordinates”. The contrast of cultures also come into play here. The group of British tourists are out of their element in heat of Florence. Whereas back in England, it can be clear that Lucy (our heroine) is feeling out of sorts in what supposedly is her home. The greatest theme comes from another line early in the film and has impacted my own actions since my last viewing. The reverend makes a comment to Lucy after she’s had a turn with the piano about what she might be if she were to live as vibrantly as she played. Perhaps our actions should be less restrained. I mean, what would your life look like if you wouldn’t hold back?
And to end this, I want to share perhaps my favorite quote from any film ever.
"He's the sort who can't know anyone intimately, least of all a woman. He doesn't know what a woman is. He wants you for a possession, something to look at, like a painting or an ivory box. Something to own and to display. He doesn't want you to be real, and to think and to live. He doesn't love you. But I love you. I want you to have your own thoughts and ideas and feelings, even when I hold you in my arms."