A wealthy man ignores his dying wife's request to leave her lavish
mansion to another woman, which leads two families down a dark path.
Howards End (1992)
Directed by James Ivory
Written by Ruth Prawer Jhabvala
Starring Anthony Hopkins, Emma Thompson, Helena Bonham Carter, Vanessa Redgrave, Samuel West, Nicola Duffett,
Prunella Scales, James Wilby, Adrian Ross Magenty
Based on the novel by E.M. Forster
Oscar Wins - Best Actress (Emma Thompson),
Best Adapted Screenplay, Best Art Direction
Oscar Nominations - Best Picture, Best Supporting Actress (Vanessa Redgrave), Best Director, Best Cinematography,
Best Costume Design, Best Original Score (Richard Robbins)
I'm glad I was finally able to watch Emma Thompson's Oscar-winning performance, but there's very little about Howards End that's worth the two and a half hour runtime. To make a long story short, it's boring. We're essentially just watching two rich families refuse to help a poor man whose life they both inadvertently destroyed. Not only that, but his poorness annoys them and ultimately gets the guy killed. Two and a half hours of stiff upper lip English backstabbing and veiled insults, with very little stakes to be found anywhere. All because Sir Hopkins refused his dying wife's last request to leave the family mansion to her new friend, who Hopkins ends up marrying for some reason. It certainly wasn't love.
Emma Thompson is Margaret Schlegel, a wealthy woman who lives quite comfortably with her rebellious younger sister Helen (Carter). When Margaret befriends Ruth Wilcox (Redgrave), the Wilcox family (who are way richer than the Schlegels) don't care for it. They see Margaret as beneath them, and when Ruth dies and leaves Howards End to Margaret, the Wilcox patriarch Henry (Hopkins) ignores the request. Thus, a secret feud begins between the Wilcox and Schlegel families, and doesn't even end when Henry marries Margaret. Also, they totally screw over lower class banker Leonard Bast (West), and instead of helping him back on his feet, they both just sort of wait for him to go away. It's all quite dull, with the performances being the only thing that kept my interest. The story takes forever to get started and never feels worth caring about.
Howards End will surely impress anyone who enjoys this type of movie, but I found it to be obnoxiously long and duller than a wooden spoon. In fact, if it weren't for Anthony Hopkins, Emma Thompson, and Helena Bonham Carter trying their hardest to make this thing interesting, I doubt it would've received the kind of awards attention it did back in 1992.