Release Date: 11th April 1986
Director: James Ivory
Writer: Ruth Prawer Jhabvala
Producer: Ismail Merchant
Associate Producer: Paul Bradley & Peter Marangoni
Runtime: 1hr 57mins
Miss Lucy Honeychurch from an English hamlet in Surrey is on holiday in Italy with her much older cousin and chaperone, Charlotte Bartlett. Charlotte is conventionally English, with an extremely restrictive personality and tends to get her way by expressing her emotions to manipulate others. Lucy has been brought up in an upper class but loving and easygoing household, and had fewer inhibitions, which creates a strong tension between Charlotte and herself. They are in contrast with the more free-thinking and free-spirited backdrop of Italy. At a small pensione Lucy meets such people as Reverend Beebe, the two Miss Alans, and the author Miss Eleanor Lavish, but most importantly, the nonconformist Mr. Emerson and his handsome, philosophical son, George, who becomes friends with Charlotte. These men, although also English, represent the forward-thinking ideals of the turn-of-the-century, seeking to leave behind the repression and caution that was the norm in Victorian times. At first, the Emerson’s seem strange and unfamiliar to Lucy and Charlotte. They seem sincere but unaware of finer upper class Victorian manners. Mr. Emerson offers to switch rooms with the women, who desire a window with a view. Charlotte is offended, believing him to be rude and tactless for what she perceives to be indebted them. As Lucy begins her journey to maturity, she finds herself drawn to George due to his mysterious thinking and readily expressed emotions.
A number of people residing at the pensione take a carriage ride in the country. A mischievous Italian driver gets back at Charlotte by misdirecting an un-chaperoned Lucy to George in a barley field as he admires the view. George suddenly embraces and passionately kisses Lucy as she approaches him. Charlotte has followed Lucy, witnesses the act, and quickly stops the intimacy. George’s unreserved passion shocks Lucy, but also lights a secret desire and romance in her heart. Charlotte suggests George kissing her was the act of a rake. Charlotte makes reference to a heartbreak from her youth that occurred the same way and has behaved accordingly with disgust and anger toward George. Charlotte uses guilt to coerce Lucy to secrecy to save both their reputations as a young lady and a chaperone, but it is mostly for her own benefit. Normally, if a young man kissed a young lady, an engagement should be announced to preserve her reputation, but Charlotte considers George to be an undesirable influence. Upon returning to England, Lucy tells her mother nothing and pretends to forget the incident. She accepts a marriage proposal from a wealthy and respectable but snobbish man named Cecil Vyse. However, she soon learns that both George and his father have moved to her small village and will be her neighbours due to a letter from Cecil Vyse inviting them to reside in an empty cottage.
The appearance of George soon disrupts Lucy’s plans and causes her suppressed feelings to resurface, complicated by the supposed need for secrecy. Lucy consistently refuses George’s pursuit of her, but mysteriously breaks off her engagement to Cecil, and makes plans to visit Greece. George has also decided that he must move for peace of mind and makes arrangements. Lucy stops by Reverend Beebe’s and is confronted by George’s father before they are to leave town. She suddenly realizes that the only reason that she planned to travel was to escape her feelings for George. At the end, we see George and Lucy honeymooning in the Italian pensione where they met, in the room with the view.
Maggie Smith…as Charlotte Bartlett
Helena Bonham Carter…as Lucy Honeychurch
Daniel Day-Lewis…as Cecil Vyse
Julian Sands…as George Emerson
Judi Dench…as Eleanor Lavish
Rupert Graves…as Freddy Honeychurch