31 January 2008 | inkblot11
Even if you adore Merchand & Ivory, as I do, you will laugh over this fun-filled parody
Emily (Georgina Cates), a lovely young British blueblood, lives with her stuffy Aunt Agnes (Prunella Scales) in a beautiful mansion. Her brother, Edward (Samuel West) is bringing home a college friend, Cedric (Robert Portal) in hopes that he may be a good match for Emily. However, although Cedric can quote Homer and dresses meticulously, he is a snob who criticizes nearly everything, including the cucumber sandwiches Aunt Agnes serves for lunch. That, of course, may be the fault of Agnes butler, Hudson, for he is the only servant-cook-bottlewasher in the whole house, and he is too busy to worry about whether the cucumbers are sliced thinly enough. In any case, Emily doesn't really warm up to Cedric but does become quite heated when George (Sean Pertwee), the local poor boy, rescues her from a near-drowning. Emily gets a bad cold from her ordeal and Aunt Agnes decides to take everyone to sunny Italy, including George in the capacity of a servant. Nothing could please Hudson more, as he will have the time to actually sit down and rest. But, will Emily and George be able to hide their budding attraction in such a romantic venue? And, does Cedric have his eye on someone, too? This film is great fun, especially for those, like myself, who adore Merchant & Ivory, David Lean, and others. It sends up such films as A Room with a View, Chariots of Fire, and A Passage to India in a most amusing way. For example, Edward manages to trip the runners at Cambridge, who are attempting to beat the clock in a race around the school's courtyard, while Emily needs a horse, pulling a rope, to get her into her corset. Fun, fun, fun. The cast is truly great, with Peter Ustinov adding to the amusement as a tea plantation owner. West, as some may know, played the unfortunate clerk in Howard's End and it is wonderful to see him getting a chance to smile, for a change. Cates is lovely, Scales a stitch, and Portal's imitation of Daniel Day-Lewis's character in Room with a View is priceless. The scenery is also gorgeous, the costumes very fine, and the production values quite high. All in all, even if you have never seen a Merchant-Ivory or David Lean film, you will still find this an entertaining film. But, if you are a true fan of distinguished British cinema, you will vastly enjoy the opportunity to laugh at this worthy parody.