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A Handful Of Dust [DVD]

James Wilby , Kristin Scott Thomas , Charles Sturridge    Parental Guidance   DVD
3.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (32 customer reviews)

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A Handful Of Dust [DVD] + Scoop [DVD] [1986]
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Product details

  • Actors: James Wilby, Kristin Scott Thomas, Rupert Graves, Anjelica Huston, Judi Dench
  • Directors: Charles Sturridge
  • Writers: Charles Sturridge, Derek Granger, Evelyn Waugh, Tim Sullivan
  • Producers: David Wimbury, Derek Granger, Jeffrey Taylor
  • Format: PAL
  • Language: English
  • Region: Region 2 (This DVD may not be viewable outside Europe. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Aspect Ratio: 16:9 - 1.66:1
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Classification: PG
  • Studio: Arrow Film
  • DVD Release Date: 15 May 2000
  • Run Time: 118 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 3.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (32 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B00004D01F
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 146,956 in DVD & Blu-ray (See Top 100 in DVD & Blu-ray)


Product Description

Aristocratic Tony Last (James Wilby) is devoted to his family and his crumbling, over-large family seat. His bored wife Brenda (Kristin Scott Thomas) takes a lover and a flat in London, creating a small scandal of which Tony is blissfully unaware. When their young son is killed in a hunting accident, Brenda initiates divorce proceedings.


Adapted from Evelyn Waugh's Jazz Age satire, A Handful of Dust is a brutal story of a failed marriage with shattering consquences. James Wilby stars as a country gentleman, Tony Last, who loves rattling around his expansive estate, Hetton Abbey.

Tony's wife, Brenda (Kristin Scott Thomas), however, pines for London's excitement and commences an affair in the city with penniless aristocrat John Beaver (Rupert Graves). The fallout of Brenda's betrayal includes a family tragedy and creative divorce settlement ultimately undone when fed-up Tony goes on a naturalist trek through Brazil and becomes the hostage of a mad, illiterate explorer (Alec Guinness). One might wonder whether it's more appropriate to laugh or tremble at these events, and director Charles Sturridge's handsome, graceful production ingeniously accommodates the story's streaks of dark comedy and horror. With brief, memorable supporting roles for Anjelica Huston and Stephen Fry.----Tom Keogh --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
39 of 39 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars HAUNTING FILM 14 Jun 2006
Occasionally you see a film which stays in your mind and even disturbs you somewhat. This for me is one of those films. Not knowing much about it before hand I was n`t prepared for the savage story to be told of what people can do to one another. All the acting is superb and the music adds to the haunting effect that this film had on me. I would recommend this film to anyone who enjoys a good story portrayed with style and expertise

and see if it haunts you too
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50 of 51 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Neglected Masterpiece 6 Oct 2004
By Amazon Customer TOP 1000 REVIEWER VINE VOICE
Format:DVD|Verified Purchase
This film has never received the recognition it deserves. Charles Sturridge's adaptation is near-perfect and although Evelyn Waugh was a notorious curmudgeon, he would be hard-pressed to find fault with this film. The cast are superb and I cannot imagine two better actors to play the Lasts.
During the late Eighties there was a brief fad for period films on this side of the Atlantic. Everybody raved about 'A Room With a View' but 'A handful of Dust' was virtually ignored. I am sure that posterity will reveal Charles Sturridge's work to be the better film of the two.
Finally, I must mention George Fenton's wonderful music, which complements and enhances the film. I have a CD of the soundtrack and have listened to it more times than I can remember. Perfect in every way.
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21 of 21 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars NOT a date movie 26 April 2006
By Luiza
An excellent, outstanding film in every respect, directing, acting, you name it. The story, however, is maybe the cruellest account of human interaction I have ever come across in fiction and it left me feeling as if somebody had kicked me in the stomach. NOT a date movie by any means!
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13 of 13 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Loved it! 17 Jun 2007
I decided to watch this purely on account of the magnificent cast, not realising it was another Evelyn Waugh adaptation. Maybe if I'd known, I wouldn't have bothered because I absolutely HATED Brideshead Revisited.

But what a magnificent film: sensitively directed, beautifully shot and the amazing cast absolutely spot-on. The understated performances of James Wilby and Kristin Scott Thomas as the two doomed main characters are just perfect to make this strange story come to life. The stellar supporting cast all add up to a feast of fine acting.


(If I could give it six stars out of five I would!)
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32 of 33 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Very enjoyable 27 Jan 2004
Charles Sturridge was also responsible for Brideshead Revisited: here he has considerably less time to capture the essence of what (for me) is a far better book, and it shows. That being said, Kristin Scott Thomas is brilliant at capturing the essence of the beautiful but cold Brenda, and Judy Dench plays the arriviste Mrs. Beaver superbly. Despite a good performance by Rupert Graves, it is not entirely clear, however, what John Beaver has that so enthrals Brenda. James Wilby is excellent as the ingenu Tony (although there are points where you want to slap him) and Alec Guinness is all too convincing in the quietly horrific last act of the film. Definitely worth seeing.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
By Amazon Customer TOP 1000 REVIEWER
A great adaptation of Evelyn Waugh's novel about self absorbed people in relationships but oblivious to their partners feeling to the point of sadistic cruelty.

I wanted to kick Tony Last (James Wilbey) as he placidly accepts his wife's sudden decision to have a London flat, study economics whilst he remains in his beloved country house. Brenda Last (Kristin Scott Thomas) is of course having an affair with frankly boring self seeking penniless John Beaver (Rupert Graves), supported by his rather nasty mother (Judi Dench).

Highly recommended and absorbing film about people you would never want to know.
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11 of 12 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Doesn't quite make it 25 Mar 2008
Other reviews of this film are quite polarised and I think I am the first to put it in the middle at 3 stars. I find it hard to pinpoint why it fails, but somehow the chemistry is just not there. The slow pace that works so well in Brideshead just feels slack. Good actors that don't do anything wrong, but simply don't ignite in any way. Arguably this reflects perfectly the hollowness of the dying upper-class system at the time, but it makes it really hard to care about any of the characters. The one who is the greatest "victim" - despite being a really nice man - is so dreadfully ineffectual that one even ends up feeling he deserves his fate, and so the emotional impact is lacking. But you might feel differently, so don't dismiss it out of hand. If you like period pieces, and enjoyed Brideshead, it might work for you.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars All that glitters... 17 Jun 2009
The story opens in 1932, in the magnificent country estate of Tony and Brenda Last (James Wilby, Kristin Scott Thomas). Tony loves puttering around the old manor, while Brenda longs for the party life in London. Out of sheer boredom, she begins an affair with a social-climbing mama's boy (Rupert Graves).

As the title indicates, this is a grim story, the first part being a rather typical domestic drama focusing on the stuffy, idle rich. No one plays the snobby aristocrat better than Thomas, and she is so wonderfully convincing, you'll hate her. Wilby is well-cast as the dull but loyal lord of the manor who dotes on his young son. Graves is handsome and suitably innocuous. This section of the film exaggerates the stiff-upper-lip, passionless lives of the upper classes in contrast to the end, which takes us halfway around the world to a primitive land. This part was very creepy and left me cringing.

I love period pieces set in posh locations, so I really enjoyed this movie. It's beautifully photographed at the exquisite Carlton Towers estate. The acting is excellent and the odd turn at the end may leave one a bit depressed but still satisfied. Recommended.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
4.0 out of 5 stars Four Stars
Published 3 months ago by Raghildur Ólafsdóttir
5.0 out of 5 stars Strong portrait of life
This is a portrait of how cruel reality can be when it comes to love and divorces.
Almost painful to watch the way Kristin Scott-Thomas here gives life to her character as a... Read more
Published 4 months ago by Norwegian
2.0 out of 5 stars Depressing
I hadn’t read the book – and am not inspired to do so. The movie starts with an upper class couple who are reasonably content, until the bored wife decides to have an affair. Read more
Published 5 months ago by Sue
5.0 out of 5 stars A Handful of Dust
It is a book which I have read and enjoyed many times. The icing on the cake is to have it in DVD format
Published 16 months ago by Marie Monteton
4.0 out of 5 stars Well Done to all!
I would recommend this film to anyone who enjoys good solid drama and with an excellent cast. I am glad that I have seen it.
Well Done!
Published 20 months ago by A. D. Gherson
4.0 out of 5 stars Evelyn Waugh
Good value for money, especially as son doing it for school subject. Nothing else to say. Nothing else to say.
Published 21 months ago by MR STEPHEN J COLLIER
3.0 out of 5 stars This is an odd one...
I didn't know anything about this movie when I watched it; and it's definitely worth a watch - but it's all quite odd. Read more
Published 23 months ago by Kim
5.0 out of 5 stars Intelligent, well cast drama
The story, set during the inter-war period, centres on the uppercrust Lasts, an ill-matched couple who are detached from "society" due to his reserved, asocial personality. Read more
Published on 15 Aug 2012 by R. Davies
3.0 out of 5 stars Unusually Strong Cast for a TV Film
"A Handful of Dust," (1988), based on Evelyn Waugh's famous novel by the same name,A Handful of Dust (Penguin Modern Classics), a jazz-age satire, was made by London Weekend... Read more
Published on 3 Mar 2012 by Stephanie De Pue
4.0 out of 5 stars Period piece which haunts...
I watched this film for the second time last night, after an interval of about 20 years. I didn't realise it was the one I had seen earlier until part-way through the story when I... Read more
Published on 17 Aug 2011 by Redbarnchris
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