The filmmakers have allowed themselves an overlong 140 minutes in order to preserve as much of the plot as possible, but they have bypassed many of the novel's key ideas and ironies.
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This is the apotheosis of Classics Illustrated filmmaking, aiming at nothing more than tasteful reduction, and the fact that it's done so well here doesn't mean that it's necessarily worth doing.
Because it is confident of its story and its powers, “Howards End” takes the time to establish itself, to allow its characters the space to demonstrate subtlety and complexity.
The performances in this costume drama are wonderful.
Incisively witty, provocative and acted to perfection, this sublime entertainment is a career peak for producer Ismail Merchant, director James Ivory and screenwriter Ruth Prawer Jhabvala.
Merchant and Ivory have regathered many of the cast and crew from their earlier films to work on this reproduction to exquisite effect.
The splendid cast embodies the characters so fully that the events actually seem to be happening to them, instead of unfolding from a screenplay.
Merchant, Ivory and Jhabvala triumph again with their entertaining, richly textured film. [13 March 1992]