The Remains Of The Day (DVD)

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The Remains Of The Day (DVD)

James Ivory directed this quietly moving film set just prior to World War II. On the large English estate of Lord Darlington (James Fox), a discipline...

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Review of "The Remains Of The Day (DVD)"

published 18/03/2017 | IzzyS
Member since : 27/07/2006
Reviews : 763
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Thanks for all rates. Let me know if I dont re-rate you - I will rectify it ASAP.
Pro Moving, thought provoking, cast/characterisations, use/timing of music, suitable for all
Cons None really
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"A Sobering Period Drama With Brilliant Casting"

- Story -

A strict and rigid butler, who has given many decades of professional service in Darlington Hall, finds reason to reminisce about the various people he worked for and he slowly realises the errors in his misguided devotion to his job in the past.

- More Info., Thoughts & Opinions -

This is a period (historical) drama, with themes including loyalty, duty and nostalgia. It is a slow paced film, one which is quite thought provoking, with a beautiful setting (Darlington Hall in Oxford) and a fair sense of melancholia present at times. It is generally quite brusque in tone - certainly James Stevens is that way himself.

I found it an interesting watch, to see the relationship between James and his father, how he reacted to certain changes in the household and I found myself feeling quite defensive and concerned for him at different points due to certain events, while, at other points, the opposite seemed to be the case, as he appeared to be relatively harsh in his dealings with others (I try my best not to give any potential spoilers, so I hope this isn't seen as giving too much away).

I found myself trying to second guess James responses and I did feel it was emotionally somewhat moving in parts, although, as I say, I won't say why. I thought it was interesting to see how James communicated with different people, the gentry and otherwise.

Cast wise, Anthony Hopkins plays the main character, James Stevens. He very much looks the part of an aristocratic butler, who practices and promotes the expected etiquette expected from the high and mighty. He comes across as strict, sometimes respectful of the orders he's given from those above himself, although at times he stands his ground but other times remarkably he doesn't. He seems stern yet a thorough worker, one who is quite reserved and who distances himself emotionally from the environments he finds himself in. Meanwhile, Emma Thomson plays Miss Kenton, the houses owner in the 1930s - she very much plays the part as well, as a prim and proper type who ensures her position is respected. Other cast members include Christopher Reeve as Jack Lewis and Hugh Grant as Reginald Cardinal.

As far as the soundtrack is concerned, the classical music played is quite mysterious in tone, rather light and floaty sounding, if that makes sense?. There is very much a moral aspect to this film, quite a heavy one potentially and it is that which makes it quite a thought provoking watch.

Content wise, the film contains very little at all likely to offend people overall. The only notable content is one scene which contains two characters (clothed) who are shown kissing heavily and one instance of relatively mild profanity. The film has a U rating, so it should be suitable for all pretty much. Perhaps the only other aspect that may be worth mentioning is that the second world war is featured, with dark aspects being talked about, so that could be slightly upsetting (or, moreso, depressing) and its fair to say that there is a mild aspect of mature theme present.

Plot wise, as I say this is very much a slow burner (as it were). I thought that it was well made and I enjoyed watching it. It is relatively long, at around two hours and a quarter long but I didn't feel it unnecessarily dragged on, which could be thought of as a fair achievement for such a film. I feel this film has a sad poignancy to it given todays political climate as well.

- Would I Recommend It? -

Yes I would recommend this film. I found it a very thought provoking watch, one which is relatively moving in parts. It has a slow pace but it is good in terms of character development, with a very good cast and it features some lovely scenery - with a pretty backdrop and ironically, from one extreme to the other, rather dark, melancholic themes. It is a fairly easy watch and I admit I never liked period dramas, or historical dramas, in my younger years - I thought they were boring and held no interest when I was in my teens and 20s but I've seen a few such films in the last year or so and they seem to appeal a bit more.

Another period drama I've seen recently but not reviewed is a film called Albert Nobbs, starring Glen Close, which was also very well handled, so if it helps at all then I reckon people who enjoyed that film may well enjoy this (although this film doesn't handle the cross dressing theme present in that other title). I know I mostly prefer fast paced films but that isn't always the case.

I originally watched this film after recognising the film title from when I was much younger and my parents saw it and I very much enjoyed Anthony Hopkins characterisation in it, so I wasn't disappointed.

- Availability -

If your interested in seeing this, you can buy it on DVD for £3.00 at Amazon UK, at time of publishing this review.

- Final Note / Thank You -

Thank you for reading my review, I hope you found it useful and thanks, as ever, for any and all rates and comments.

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This review was read 76 times and was rated at
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Comments on this review

  • euphie published 09/04/2017
    vh :o)
  • danielalong published 28/03/2017
  • anonymili published 23/03/2017
    I've always heard good things about the film, not least because of Mr Hopkins starring in it, but the subject matter hasn't appealed to me. Might have to look it up one of these days :)
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Manufacturer's product description

James Ivory directed this quietly moving film set just prior to World War II. On the large English estate of Lord Darlington (James Fox), a disciplined butler, Stevens (Anthony Hopkins), devotes himself to his duties with rigorous dedication. Like his father (Peter Vaughan) before him, Stevens lives to serve--to bring order and certainty to the estate's minutiae. Though Stevens has the opportunity to break free of this mold in the form of a romance with the spirited housekeeper, Miss Kenton (Emma Thompson), he chooses to remain within the safe structure of the household, even one that has misguided loyalties to Nazi Germany. Christopher Reeve and Hugh Grant costar as men hoping to show Lord Darlington the danger of his allegiances. THE REMAINS OF THE DAY is Merchant-Ivory's follow-up to HOWARDS END, which also starred Hopkins and Thompson; both actors were nominated for Academy Awards for their roles as dutiful servants in the later film.


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