Celebrating its 30th Anniversary on 4K Ultra HD and Digital from director James Ivory and Sony Pictures Home Entertainment is the story of two people in an extraordinary time with THE REMAINS OF THE DAY.
English butler Stevens (Anthony Hopkins) is in charge of Darlington Hall in the 1930s belonging to Lord Darlington (James Fox). Dedicated to the house in every way, he keeps the house running smart and the staff focused. Interviewing Miss Kenton (Emma Thompson) as she is hired at the new estate’s housekeeper as well as Steven’s father (Peter Vaughn).
Almost immediately Stevens and Miss Kenton find themselves at odds. Having totally different demeanors, he keeps his feeling and opinions close to his well-groomed vest and she is spirited and believes that right is right no matter what a person’s status.
When Lord Darling brings together a conference of British and European aristocrats and, among them, is American Congressman Lewis (Christopher Reeve). Lewis is can not believe what he is hearing these men talk about but makes it clear to Darlington that he has come to admire and appreciate England and all it has to offer.
Stevens is disappointed in his employer when he dismisses two German-Jewish maids and Kenton makes it plain she will resign. Something else is happening between Stevens and Miss Kenton and they both don’t know how to deal with it. It confuses her even more, especially when one of the maids has decided to resign to marry another of the house staff.
It all comes to a shock when godson Reginald Cardinal (Hugh Grant) arrives for a secret meeting at Darlington Hall between Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain and German ambassador Joachim von Ribbentrop. The bigger shock is for Stevens when Miss Kenton decides to accept a proposal from Tom Benn (Tim Pigott-Smith) when she realizes the butler will never speak his emotional truth.
It is now 1958 and Darlington Hall is much different but Stevens is on his way to meet Miss Kenton after years of being away, it is a chance to make amends for the past.
Hopkins as Stevens is absolutely stunning in this role. He has the ability to play the straight forward butler keeping his emotions in check at every turn. His eyes may start to show feeling but he quickly reels that in as well. Every step he takes in this film is deliberate, calculated and breath taking, but then I have come to expect nothing more from Hopkins.
Thompson as Miss Kenton is a woman who clearly knows how to run a household and also does not stop at having an opinion. Ruffling Stevens feathers almost immediately, she finds herself not only getting the house in order but learning what Stevens is truly made of. She pushes his boundaries when able, challenges him when necessary and cares for him whether he sees it or not. Thompson is an actress that I have also come to admire as much as Hopkins.
Reeves as Lewis comes to Darlington Hall in the 30’s and sees the beauty of his surroundings. When the house comes up for sale, he makes it his focus to obtain it and bring his family. Reeves also trusts Stevens and again allows him to take control of the house. It is so good to see him in the film. Fox as Darlington is a man who is trying to do the right thing by his country. Trusting Stevens to run the house, he focuses on reaching out to his countrymen but in the process, becomes a man who is good in heart and not good at realizing who is using him.
Grant as Cardinal is godson to Lord Darlington and starts to become frustrated with his godfather. It is interesting to see his character go from a kid who needs to learn about the birds n’ bees to a ranting journalist who wants Stevens to understand what is happening around him.
Other cast include Ben Chaplin as Charlie, Rupert Vansittart as Sir Wren, Patrick Godfrey as Spencer, Michael Lonsdale as Dupon d’Ivry, Peter Eyre as Viscount Halifax, Peter Halliday as Canon Tufnell, Jeffry Wickham as Viscount Bigge, Lena Headey as Lizzie, Peter Cellier as Sir Bax, and Frank Shelley as Prime Minister Chamberlain.
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Special Features include Audio Commentary with Director James Ivory, Producer Ismail Merchant and Actress Emma Thompson, Love and Loyalty: The Making of REMAINS OF THE DAY Featurette, THE REMAINS OF THE DAY: The Filmmakers’ Journey Featurette, Blind Loyalty, Hollow Honor: England’s Fatal Flaw Featurette, Deleted Scenes with Optional Commentary, Theatrical Trailer and International Trailer.
THE REMAINS OF THE DAY is not only an amazing story being told but told with perfection with Hopkins and Thompson leading the way. Every scene they are in together has me captivated and thrilled that the film is 134 minutes. Although I would have preferred a different ending, the other side of me understands the longing to try and repair the heart of the past mixed with the fact that it is, after all, the past.
The cinematography is filled with shadowing, brilliant artistry and everything one would expect to find in the era. Director Ivory has taken the 1989 Nobel Prize-winning British author Kazuo Ishiguro’s novel of the same name and wasted not one single moment.
In 1994, the film won Best Actor for Anthony Hopkins from BAFTA, and also DFWAFCA winner again for Hopkins. Plus, THE REMAINS OF THE DAY received 14 Oscar nominations including Best Actor for Anthony Hopkins, Best Actress for Emma Thompson, Best Director for James Ivory and Best Picture.
In the end – it is a story of devotion and love!