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« Heroes & Villains | Main | Berlin: Tunisia's "Hedi" »
Saturday
Feb132016

Valentine's - A Room With a View

Team Experience is celebrating Valentines Day with favorite love scenes. Here's Lynn Lee on an 80s classic

Great Moments in Screen Kisses #20, Julian Sands and Helena Bonham CarterEveryone who loves this film remembers The Kiss.  It’s the moment proper Edwardian girl Lucy Honeychurch (a very young Helena Bonham-Carter), vacationing in Italy, discovers romantic passion for the first time.  She doesn’t know it yet, but the odd free-thinking young man she’s only recently met (Julian Sands) is her soulmate.  He knows it, though.

Besides being (literally) storybook-romantic—a sun-drenched poppy field in Italy! lush soprano aria in the background!—the kiss is also wreathed in comedy, as the film cuts back and forth between Lucy, wending her way uncertainly towards George, and her fussy chaperone Charlotte (Maggie Smith) bonding with another fellow tourist, a hacky romance novelist (Judi Dench), over scandalous love stories before she starts to worry about Lucy.  Meanwhile, the Italian driver who led Lucy to George looks on in amusement at what he has wrought.  He knows what’s up, his own public display of affection having been previously smacked down by these uptight Brits.  But the Kiss will not be denied.

 

It’s also the kiss that keeps on giving for the rest of the movie.  Its memory haunts Lucy during her utter failure of a first kiss with her fiancé, Cecil (Daniel Day-Lewis, vying for comic MVP with Maggie Smith), in England.  It reappears again at a critical and exquisitely awkward moment as a passage in a terrible romance novel, penned by none other than Charlotte’s novelist friend, that the clueless Cecil just happens to read out loud to none other than Lucy and George.  The tension that was simmering since George’s reentry into Lucy’s life then comes to full boil, precipitating a chain of events that eventually forces out in the open what Lucy’s been denying for too long: she and George belong together. 

All thanks to one glorious kiss.

Our Valentine's Series
Shakespeare in Love (1998)
Before Sunset (2004)
The Painted Veil (2006)
Love Songs (2007)
(500) Days of Summer (2009)
Beyond the Lights (2014)

 

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Reader Comments (9)

I watched this for the first time last year because of HMWYBS (thanks, HMWYBS!) It's so great! I wish we, the people, could still turn movies like that into big hits.
It gets a bad rap, but the 80s were a really great time for grown-up, artful filmmaking.

February 13, 2016 | Unregistered CommenterMike in Canada

Everything is just so perfect about this film, even the inter-titles are little works of art. This scene is gorgeous in execution, everything you would imagine a romantic embrace to be. I love the later scene after Cecil has unknowingly read the passage describing it and Lucy races off followed by George when he steals another kiss and Lucy pushes him away but not before kissing him back.

February 13, 2016 | Unregistered Commenterjoel6

It's wonderful when something you loved when you were young is still perfection when you're much older. Room with a View is a Valentine of a movie, because it's all about seeking, wanting, and finding love.

Helena Bonham Carter was just 19 when she made this, and she took everyone's breath away because she was so beautiful. (and still is.)
Mr. Beebe and Rupert Graves going for a bathe was a comic highlight.
Maggie Smith and Judi Dench together on screen for the first time together!
I didn't really pay much attention to Cecil (DDL) but he went on to do quite well...

Please don't be shy about admitting that you love a Merchant Ivory film - they did some very fine work. Thanks for this article - I think I will re-watch it tomorrow.

February 13, 2016 | Unregistered CommenterLadyEdith

joel6: I LOVE that scene, too, and almost wrote about it instead - but I kinda felt like I *had* to pay tribute to the poppy field kiss. (plus, much easier to find video of on youtube)

And yeah, I've no shame whatsoever in admitting I love this film, which is definitely Merchant-Ivory's best, with Howards End probably second. I basically grew up with it, since my parents loved it and played it on VHS I don't know how many times.

February 13, 2016 | Unregistered Commenterlylee

I totally love this film and I think it's currently my favorite film from Merchant-Ivory at the moment.

February 13, 2016 | Unregistered CommenterSteven

i watched on youtube.

February 13, 2016 | Unregistered Commentermaria

My second favourite romantic film of all time (next MR of course:)) Gorgeous all round.

February 15, 2016 | Unregistered CommenterJoanne

Happy air, remain here with your
living rays: and you, clear running stream,
why can’t I exchange my path for yours?

March 7, 2017 | Unregistered CommenterRon

Lucy !

"If love can e'er a loving one inspire,
Most lovingly it gave me now its fire..."

October 14, 2018 | Unregistered CommenterRon

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