The Europeans [DVD] 
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Baroness Eugenia Munster (Lee Remick) travels from Europe with her brother Felix (Tim Woodward) to live with her country cousins, the Wentworths, who regard Eugenia and Felix as a pair of dangerous exotics. Ruth Prawer Jhabvala's script reflects the wit of Henry James' novel as Felix falls for Gertrude (Lisa Eichhorn), daughter of the family, and Eugenia embarks on a romance with Robert Acton (Robin Ellis), the district's most eligible bachelor.
From the Back Cover
Based on the Henry James classic and starring Hollywood leading lady Lee Remick (Oscar nominated for Days of Wine and Roses), The Europeans is yet another exquisite product from Merchant Ivory Productions. A witty comedy of manners, it tracks the clash between tow opposing cultures European bohemianism versus the straight-laced society of 19th century Boston. Remick plays Eugenia, Baroness Munster, who travels from Europe with her brother, Felix (Tim Woodward, Wings, Vanity Fair) to live with her country cousins, the Wentworths, who regard Eugenia and Felix as a pair of dangerous exotics. It is a situation rich in comic possibilities and Ruth Prawer Jhabvalas script perfectly reflects the wit of James novel as Felix falls for Gertrude (Lisa Eichhorn, Yanks, Cutters Way), daughter of the family, and Eugenia embarks on a romance with Robin Acton (Robin Ellis, Poldark), the districts most eligible bachelor.
Filmed on location against a stunning backdrop of New England landscapes, The Europeans attracted a raft of prestigious nominations, including an Oscar nomination for costume designer Judy Moorcroft.
Top customer reviews
The setting of the film in Indian summer with its golden foliage is absolutely breathtaking. Lee Remick's performance in the role of the European sister, Eugenia, is her most fine-lined, delicate and cunning ever. This Merchant Ivory production does true justice to the Henry James novel.
The Europeans is a timeless masterpiece that is not marked by the passing of years since it was filmed in 1979. The extra features on the DVD are worthwhile. An outstanding feature is an interview with James Ivory, Ismail Merchant and Ruth Prawer Jhabvala that sheds invaluable insight into the production. I also recommend by the same producers A Passage to India, Howard's End, A Room with a View, and Remains of the Day (all available on DVD).
There's no denying the visual beauty of the images up there on the screen, but alas in the end they amount to little more than a scrapbook of pretty pictures since the glue of dramatic energy that should bind them together is lacking. The brother and sister newly arrived from Europe mingle warily with their American cousins as they strive to find a common way of looking at the world as well as a common purpose, but the contest is desultory rather than compelling, and the pairing off at the end of the film is carried out with a lethargy in keeping with the general tone of the direction.
The New England landscapes and wealthy house exteriors and interiors are photographed with loving care, though I soon tired off the invariable handling in close-up of individuals and social groups in the indoor scenes; no doubt the intention was to convey an impression of cramped emotional development in the Boston cousins, but I found the technique limiting.
The acting is solid. Lee Remick is careful not to overplay her role and turn her slightly risque woman into a femme fatale, but she's surely too old for the part at 44. Lisa Eichhorn delicately plays the repressed young woman who longs to break out.
Not a patch on Merchant-Ivory's Howards End or A Room with a View.
Young Gertrude Wentworth (Lisa Eichhorn), always the most iconoclastic member of the family, is immediately smitten by Felix, finding him a welcome relief from the earnest but stuffy Rev. Brand (Norman Snow), who has been courting her. Eugenia works her wiles on the men, focusing both on Clifford (Tim Choate), the young son and Wentworth heir-to-be, and on neighbor Robert Acton (Robin Ellis), flirting and awakening them to new and exciting possibilities.
The late autumn foliage sets off the perfectly maintained and appropriately furnished Federal Period homes which serve as the setting for the action, and the cinematography (Larry Pizer), which often features an elegant antique gazebo, shows off naturally beautiful outdoor scenes, along with dreadful rains and mud. The original score by Richard Robbins is one of the film's highlights--romantic without being cloying, and often haunting in its echoes. Jill Eichhorn, as Gertrude, is charming as she represses her sense of fun at the beginning and then lets go, under the influence of the captivating Felix.
Historically faithful in depicting the arts of the period, well photographed, winningly scored, and beautiful to look at, this early Merchant-Ivory film is a lovely entertainment, but it does have two weaknesses. The father (as played by Wesley Addy) is unrealistically puritanical, especially for a Unitarian who reads the transcendentalists and lives only seven miles from Boston's culture. And Lee Remick, as Eugenia, is too mature for the role. In her mid-forties when she makes this film, her serious flirting with twenty-ish Clifford does not ring true, nor does her manipulation of the family. Though the film lacks the depth of the novel, it is a wry and often humorous look at mid-19th century life. Mary Whipple
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