Howards End

The famous adapting team of producer Ismail Merchant, director James Ivory, and writer Ruth Prawer Jhabvala, who’ve specialized over the years in the novels of Henry James (The Europeans, The Bostonians) and E.M. Forster (A Room With a View, Maurice), turn to Forster’s 1910 masterpiece about the intertwined lives of two families (1992). Although the results are generally better than their earlier triesmost of the acting is exquisite, the ‘Scope framing and lighting is elegant, the settings are beautifulthe conceptual limitations of the whole middlebrow enterprise are, if anything, even more blatant. This is the apotheosis of Classics Illustrated filmmaking, aiming at nothing more than tasteful reduction, and the fact that it’s done so well here doesn’t mean that it’s necessarily worth doing. With Vanessa Redgrave, Helena Bonham Carter, Joseph Bennett, Emma Thompson, Prunella Scales, Anthony Hopkins, and an uncredited cameo by Simon Callow. (JR)

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