- A strong supporting cast (including Jessica Tandy, Lina Hunt, Wallace Shawn) but this is Vanessa Redgrave’s show. She’s superb—so much so that it magnifies the unremarkable work of Madeleine Potter and Christopher Reeve as her co-leads
- Strong adaptation of Henry James
- Love the details of the organ instrument on the opening credits
- It’s really a love triangle with Reeve and Redgrave competing for Potter- lesbian film- there’s intelligent insulations throughout “a friendship that means so much to you” as someone says to Redgrave
- If played for comedy (and he’s smiling) Reeve has some lines here—like “she looks so pretty when she says it” talking about Potter’s gift for speech on feminism
- Love the old map drawings of Boston and NYC for establishing shots
- It’s a detailed period look- costume- Ivory should be complimented
- Love the exterior photography of the sunset, boat on the lake—has an idyllic Renoir- A Day in the Country feel to it
- There is real pain in Redgrave’s eyes- great performance
- The ending isn’t open but it’s an intellectual mix of bitter sweet for all three leads
- The narrative is strong- Merchant Ivory clearly have a love for James but are not standing back in awe of it
- Recommend- not in top 10 of 1984
I think the Bostonians needs a restoration. Not so much so because it is one of the best Merchant Ivory films or because it is terribly interesting narrative wise – but those scenes by the sea (and there must just be like 2 or 3 of them) are gorgeous. The colours are magnificent and the photography wonderful. Very lyrical and a great setting for such an emotional story. It’s perhaps the equivalent of the field of bluebells in Howards End and there is also a similar prairie in A Room with a View. Ivory must like playing on this motif – a picturesque, beautifully photographed natural landscape, reappearing over and over. Those tend to be more pivotal to the characters’ world than the detailed interior sets. The beach sequences make this film worth a widely accessible restoration by all standards. I always liked the Merchant Ivory style and it is honestly much less prudish (not at all prudish, in fact) than many are led to believe.
@Georg- very nicely said. And agreed- not prudish at all. I think on the James Ivory page I make note that just about every Merchant Ivory film has nudity in it- haha. Not something most people think of when they think of Merchant Ivory films
@Drake – yes! I distinctly remember reading your page on James Ivory and thinking you summed it up perfectly: that is, contrary to popular belief, his films are not prudish and definitely not stiff, un-cinematic/theatrical or lifeless. I was in fact surprised with how much people’s sentiment and passion influenced their actions and stories. He is always contradicting social norms with the inner world of his characters, to which he is always very respectful and insightful. You hit it right on the head on that page and I agree with you that Howards End is his best effort, though I think that the Remains of the Day is probably the most accessible and the one generally liked by people who are not fond of his work.
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