“Howards End” Review ✦✦✦✦✧

26 November, 2017

Year of Release: 1992
James Ivory
Ruth Prawer Jhabvala
Director of Photography: 
Tony Pierce-Roberts
Anthony Hopkins, Emma Thompson, Helena Bonham Carter

Synopsis: Set in Edwardian England, “Howards End” presents a socially-conscious tale of rigid tradition and unbending class divide, focusing on three families whose lives become inexplicably linked following the unjust bequeathment of a property.

Howards End Review:

A contemporary delight adapted from a century-old novel, “Howards End” brings out the timeless qualities in a classic E. M. Forster story, finding subtle cues and observations in an essential text and immortalising them forever in film form. By no means a period bore and rather gripping as one of James Ivory’s most stunningly executed productions, the movie establishes itself as one of many Merchant-Ivory wonders, both embracing and criticising early twentieth century customs as a hardy patriarch with little sympathy outside of his social class creates a ripple effect with emotional consequences.

Unflinching in its reproduction of the flaws and prejudices still undoubtedly present at the turn of the previous century, “Howards End” sees the upper, middle, and working classes overlap on a personal level yet fail to merge formally as a series of interrelated flings and seemingly unavoidable self-fulfilling prophecies come to highlight the lies and limits that played a huge role in the society of Forster’s day. A tale of two sisters and the values that both tie them together and push them apart, the film is a conflicted classic, embodying the scorn and ignorance of the high and mighty yet observing it through the eyes of those most familiar with the hypocrisy of their era.

Inviting and magical without a single bad talent in its incredible line-up, “Howards End” is a knockout in its genre, capturing some of the finest moments in the careers of Emma Thompson, Anthony Hopkins, and Helena Bonham Carter with its perennial exploration of pre-war expectation and dated gender roles. Timid yet outgoing and kind-hearted yet attractive, Thompson steals the show as the uninformed inheritor of an historic property, proving more good-natured and socially aware than her eventual husband but ultimately submissive to his whims at a time when her opinion is most vital. Pulling mismatched characters together like powerful magnets, the film uses its family plot as a metaphor soon to be demolished in the lead up to modernity; an era that will pollute the night sky but afford people of all backgrounds a freedom they never once thought possible.


Review Date
Howards End