45 of 46 people found the following review helpful
on 9 January 2006
Remains of the Day is without question my favourite book. Indeed I have enjoyed all of Kazuo Ishiguro's books. Now ordinarily I would expect that watching a film of what I consider to be one of the great books, even a film as highly aclaimed as this one, is only going to lead to disappointment. Indeed I had put off watching this for years for that very reason, I did not want my memory of the book to be spoilt by an inferior film. What a foolish mistake that proved to be.
This film is quite simply outstanding.
It is failful to the novel and does an impressive job of adapting almost the entire book into film so the beautifully told story is not lost at all.
It is the acting that really makes this though. Much has been said about Hopkins performance and it is one of his best (if not the best), but the supporting cast are equally strong. Emma Thompson is brilliant as Miss Kenton, playing the character just as I would have imagined.
I can't recommend this highly enough.
67 of 69 people found the following review helpful
on 3 December 2000
Hopkins delivers one of the finest performances in cinema hisory as the loyal butler, too dedicated to his job to concentrate on the affairs of his own life. Both Hopkins and Thompson show supurb acting and on-screen chemistry that really sets a mark for the British film industry. The film contains a wide variety of fine co-stars with the likes of Hugh Grant and Christopher Reeve who add yet more strength to the overall quality of this film.
Totally recomended to all who expect to be entertained by good acting and high standard drama.
56 of 58 people found the following review helpful
In spite of the magnificence of the stately home in which this is set this is a surprisingly low-key film, helped by a beautifully moody score. Everything about it is understated to great effect. Anthony Hopkins plays a butler who is anxious to distance himself from the fact that a previous employer, Lord Darlington (James Fox) was a notorious Nazi appeaser. His new employer (Christopher Reeve) loans him his car so that he can go and pay a long-overdue visit to the ex-housekeeper (Emma Thompson). During the journey Hopkins reflects on his past career at Darlington Hall.
It is very hard to find the right words to describe what a beautiful film this is. Anthony Hopkins gives an incredible performance, quietly restrained but acting with every fibre of his being, as the man who has devoted himself to a lifetime of service, to the detriment of his own emotions and feelings. Nowhere is this more effective than in the scenes with his elderly father (Peter Vaughan), where he has the difficult job of portraying a man who cares deeply for his father but won't let anything (not even his father's death) get in the way of duty. Vaughan is also faultless as the man who has effectively turned himself into a human machine, there solely to serve others, and distraught when he can no longer do so.
James Fox has the unenviable role of playing Lord Darlington, a man who, though you can understand his own personal reasons for wanting to appease the Germans (he made a pact in the trenches with a German friend that they would never go to war again), it is hard to be sympathetic to his naivety when dealing with the Nazi's. The scene where he orders the two Jewish refugees he has working for him to be sent away is quite chilling. As is the house-party where he lavishly entertains some of the German top brass, and behind his back they are quietly making note of all his fine arts, for when they finally get to commandeer the house! These are all deeply uncomfortable scenes to watch.
The relationship between Hopkins and Thompson is the highlight of this film. Emma Thompson playing one of her most loveable characters, the oh-so English (almost Joyce Grenfell-ish) Miss Kenton. Hopkins is never better than when struggling with his attraction for her, and Thompson's increasing frustration with him that he won't break out of being a butler, not even for an instant! If you watch this film you won't regret it, it is intelligent, thought-provoking and deeply moving, and has some of the best acting you will ever see on film. I don't want to give too much away, but the ending perfectly sums up the old saying that to be reticent about love is possibly the worst mistake of all!
7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
Some may not appreciate my stating that I find some of the Merchant Ivory productions stodgy and self-absorbed. Not so this one. Antony Hopkins and Emma Thompson lead a cast who just did everything right.
Antony Hopkins butler character is a study in deference and emotional repression. A difficult childhood is hinted at by his father. We are left to flesh out a few brief remarks, and wonder how he was left so cold and detached. He immerses himself in his work. The housekeeper played by Emma Thompson, is obviously attracted to the butler, and the attraction appears mutual at times. There are almost tender moments between them, but ultimately, he is never going to let his guard down. It is as though he uses the strict formality of the era and the household to hide behind.
The film is slow burning, with little action. A sub-plot concerning the pre war Nazi sympathy of the master do nothing to take my attention away from the story of the butler and the housekeeper.
This movie deserved all it's Acadamy Award nominations. What a pity it never won any. It is a fine example of British cinema at it's best.
19 of 20 people found the following review helpful
on 11 September 2007
Sir Anthony Hopkins truly is a master when it comes to 'getting into character'. His ability to portray the most subtle of human emotions throughout the film, coupled with his deft ability to become 'Mr Stevens' is one of the best pieces of acting I have ever witnessed. His performance should have won him an Academy award but a superb supporting role by Emma Thompson would also have been deserving of an Oscar. The repressed love between the two characters makes for exasperating viewing as you almost wish they would dispel with the formalities and say how they feel towards one another. However, as a whole the film is beautifully shot and this film is simply superb. While I did not feel as emotional as I did watching 'Shadowlands', I still felt quite sad as the film concluded purely through the supreme activing abilities of Hopkins and Thompson. Wonderful.
26 of 28 people found the following review helpful
on 11 January 2004
This film is one of the most enchanting ones I have ever seen, a most touching and extraordinary story, flawlessly acted by Emma Thompson and Antony Hopkins. The adaptation of Ishiguro's book really captures the essence of the story in spite of the slight differences mostly due to directorial choice. There is a lot of fun here, but also some silent cruelty in the way the story ends. The presence of emotional depth and its manifestation in the actors' gestures and especially their mimic renders the whole movie really lifelike, which - every occasion you see it - makes you hope that the outcome can somehow be different... Although it cannot, I recommend this film to everybody who enjoys romantic-dramatic movies and is not afraid of shedding a few tears.
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on 25 November 2014
Mr. Stevens played by Anthony Hopkins, is the butler of a large household, Darlington Hall, insists on perfection, and nothing less will do. When Miss Kenton, played by Emma Thompson, arrives to take up the position of housekeeper, she eventually falls in love with him. He refuses to let any relationship develop, being devoted to his job and his employer, Lord Darlington, played by James Fox, which turns out to be misguided, as he is a Nazi-sympathizer. It is not till much later, that he realizes this flaw in his judgment. Even when his father, Mr Stevens Senior is took on, played by Peter Vaughan, and later dies, when informed, he still carries on with his duties.
Every so often, along comes a film that excels above others, maybe for the acting, the direction, or cinematography, this is one of them. Told in flashback, (between the late 30's through to the 50's) this is a brilliant film from Merchant Ivory. There are a number of stars in this film, all of them playing their roles to perfection, but the acting from Anthony Hopkins and Emma Thompson is outstanding. This is the type of film that Merchant Ivory excels in. (Another being Howard's End). If you enjoy period films, then you will enjoy this.
Picture Quality for this blu ray release is excellent, having a pin sharp image and natural colours. The transfer is in it's original ratio of 2.35:1, and the soundtrack is in 5.1.
This may only appeal to a limited audience, but nonetheless is an outstanding film.
10 of 11 people found the following review helpful
on 24 August 2006
This is an exemplar of the Merchant-Ivory style and is infinitely superior to almost all other historically-contextualised films representing the apparent idiosyncracies of British-ness (emotional restraint and disconnectedness; deferral/loyalty to authority, particularly to aristoratic prestige, etc). That the internalised torment the central characters go through (brilliantly depicted by Emma Thompson and Anthony Hopkins) is no less nullified by the outward presentation of politeness and decorum is a testament to both the original text and the screenplay adaptation.
I watched this after being rejected by long-time adored one ... It is very possibly the most complete cinematic expression of the suffering induced by unrequited love since 'Casablanca'.
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
A thoroughly absorbing and moving film brilliantly adapted from the exceptional Kazuo Ishiguro novel. Flawless acting in every part with Hopkins & Thompson just perfect and Fox, Grant and Reeve admirable in support. There is so much going on under the surface of this story of life below stairs in a large stately home and there is great psychological tension, pathos and humour in equal amounts but Upstairs, Downstairs it is not. In many ways the story is a relentless voyage of discovery as both Lord Darlington and his butler Stevens meet their political and personal destiny. There are so many memorable, powerful and affecting moments. First rate acting, casting, script, direction, music that does justice, uncommonly, to the original work. A delightful film that you will want to savour over and over again.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on 31 December 2014
This is one of the finest films of all time, portraying in exact detail the genius of Ishiguro's novel about Mr Steven's, the butler at Darlington Hall. The narrator in the novel is Mr Stevens, and it is his distinctive use of the English language that makes the book such a pleasure. The same English is used throughout the film, indeed much of the dialogue is straight from the pages of the book.
The film also does justice to all the irony surrounding the idea of dignity and what makes a great butler - the major theme in the book. The irony is that Mr Steven's idea of dignity led him to give the best years of his life to serving a naive English gentleman who tried to make peace with the Nazis in the 1930's and even sacked two Jewish housemaids in this cause.
However in the film the main story line is the unexpressed love between Mr Stevens and the house-keeper, Miss Kenton. This builds up slowly to give us a very different sort of irony: that one of the most heart-breaking and romantic scenes in cinema happens without a kiss, just two hands shaking at a rainy bus stop, and then parting. It's virtually the final scene - in both the book and the film.
The film though adds a superb epilogue, which sums up why Mr Stevens never had a love life. A bird is found flying around one of the large rooms at Darlington Hall where Mr Stevens served. The bird is taken to the window and flies free into the Oxfordshire skies. Mr Stevens stays in the hall - with his duty and dignity - to live out the remains of his day.