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Where Angels Fear To Tread is one of the free DVDs issued with newspaper - I think it was the Mail - the film is 1991 so is nearly 20 years old now! It is adapted from the E M Forster novel, set in Edwardian times and starrs Helena Bonham Cater, Rupert Graves and Helen Mirren.
**A bit of the Storyline**
The rich widow Lilia Herriton (Helen Mirren) heads off to Italy following the death of her husband with her chaperone Caroline Abbott (Helena Bonham Carter), leaving the care of her daughter with her grandparents in England. Whilst on their trip Lilia writes home to announce her engagement to Italian stud Giovanni Guidelli (Gino Carella) and the family think this is too soon so send Philip Herriton (Rupert Graves) who is Lilia's brother in law to stop the marriage.
When Philip gets there he finds the couple married already so there's not a lot he can do but whilst there he falls in love with Italy and is sympathetic towards the couple. In the continuing months, Lilia becomes pregnant to her and Giovanni's delight but sadly dies in childbirth. The family in England want the child to live with them as they don't want Lilia's money to stay in Italy.
**What's it like?**
I won't go on any further as I don't want to give the whole storyline away! It's a good period drama but not much to look at by way of costumes or anything.
I felt like the 108 minutes dragged a bit and that two of the characters looked very similar so it was a bit confusing during the middle of the film.
Helen Mirren played a decent role but she didn't get much air time really and Helena Bonham Carter was amazingly pale as usual in this film and not very exciting but played her role adequately. Highlight for me is Gino Carella featured in various stages of undress (but it is a PG so don't let your imagination get too carried away). He's very easy on the eye though!
I'd say it's a good Sunday afternoon film, a bit dull in places but keeps you guessing right to the end, which in my opinion is a bit disappointing. I won't be watching it again any time soon.
If you still want to watch this film, amazon are selling it from as little as £1.50 but don't be surprised if it turns up in a cardboard sleeve lol!
Where Angels Fear to Tread is a period drama adapted from an E M Forster novel directed by Charles Sturridge. Not having read the novel I honestly can't say how true the film is to the book... It's a PG certificate and runs for 112 minutes. The film stars Helen Mirren, Helena Bonham-Carter, Judy Davis, Rupert Graves, Giovanni Guidelli and Barbara Jefford.
If you're wondering about the title of this review, then I'm sorry it doesn't mean much; I just couldn't get inspiration enough to think of a different one!
A recently widowed Lilia Herriton (Mirren) leaves the bosom of her over protective in-laws' family to visit Italy along with her chaperone Caroline (Bonham-Carter) leaving her daughter in the care of her in-laws. There the chirpy 30 something Lilia meets and falls in love with 21 year old Gino (Guidelli) and announces rather too quickly by letter to her in-laws her intention to marry him, much to their dismay. They promptly send out the son Phillip (Graves), who is a lawyer, to try to dissuade her from doing the unthinkable. He's unsuccessful and the strong minded Lilia goes ahead and marries her young Latin lover.
Lilia has her share of problems with her new husband as he is quite old-fashioned and set in his ways and she is a free spirit but eventually she falls pregnant and they are both over the moon. Sadly she dies just after giving birth to their son and he has to cope with bringing up baby alone. Phillip and his stern sister Harriet (Davis) then try every means possible to bring the child back to their home.
This is the first time I'd seen Helen Mirren in such a role, it's quite different to her roles in dramas such as Prime Suspect series. She's happy, frivolous and almost always smiling on camera during her brief but notable appearances in the film.
The character of Gino is supposedly of noble birth but Philip finds out he's "just the son of a dentist". This is quite amusing as it shows the true snob value of the Herriton family - if he was a nobleman would the marriage have been accepted? The film is set in an area where that sort of thing was far more important than it is nowadays. It was also an era when it was not socially acceptable for widows to remarry so soon after being widowed. Philip is angry initially with Caroline who was supposed to be chaperoning Lilia for allowing her to get "embroiled" with the Italian hunk. Caroline's character goes from dowdy and dull to quite animated and vibrant during the course of the film and Bonham-Carter is a delight to watch playing this role. She is delicate of nature but becomes quite strong-minded with time and we are to assume this is due to being in Italy and the magical surroundings.
It's highly amusing to me that the Herriton's are cheeky enough to assume they have any claim over Lilia and Gino's son as he has no blood connection with them whatsoever. It all goes back to the period the film is set in. The notion of bringing up their son's wife's child from her marriage to another man is in their eyes "the done thing" and seems perfectly justified to them. Judy Davis is absolutely hilarious as Lilia's stern and permanently irritated sister-in-law Harriet. She's so pompous in some scenes that you can't help laughing at her. I've always rated Davis as an actress and her constant comical grumblings in this film made me admire her acting abilities even more!
The character of Gino is quite funny to watch develop through the film. He's mature in some respects - his sense of family and wanting to be head of the household and assert his authority of his much older free spirited wife and quite childish at other times having tantrums and the like. You see him slapping his wife for daring to go out walking alone and then flirting with other women quite openly. You also see the true grief he feels when his wife dies giving birth to their son and how much love and affection he gives to the child which is really very touching. I couldn't really fault Guidelli's acting skills, I completely believed in his character!
Rupert Graves was a real revelation in this film. I've never really noticed him much in other films but he really stood out in this film. His character is initially quite limp and weak, having nothing to do really in life. His mission to go to Italy to "save" his sister-in-law from the "foreigner" Gino is his first real job to get his teeth into and he rises to the occasion although he's soon enough charmed by his new surroundings as well as by the charismatic Gino. You end up feeling sorry for his character especially when he says that the important things in life, such as falling in love, just seem to pass him by.
The film is set mostly in Tuscany with some scenes in England. The scenes set in Tuscany are quite eye-catching but not really visually stunning enough to make me believe why so many of the characters are so deeply affected by visiting there.
This is a period romance not really suitable for children, not that there are any unsuitable scenes really but I feel kids would be bored rigid watching this. If you're into period dramas, you'll enjoy this. It's a film to watch on a lazy Sunday afternoon. Most men won't find it entertaining unless you especially adore Bonham Carter, Davis or Mirren and want to see them in long petticoats and dresses with tight corsets!
Overall I'd recommend this film if you enjoy this genre and would rate it a high 4 out of 5.
Thanks for reading :)
A widow is sent to Italy by her in-laws to recuperate. There she meets and falls in love with a young Italian... Based on the novel by E.M. Forster.