I saw two interesting films over the weekend. One was Merchant-Ivory Production's Remains of the Day. The other was Before Sunset.
Remains of the Day, based on Kazuo Ishiguro's eponymous novel, is the story of an English butler, Stevens (Anthony Hopkins), who takes a road trip in the West country of England and reminices about his days in the Darlington Hall and his interaction with his former master, Lord Darlington (James Fox), and a former housekeeper, Miss Kenton (Emma Thompson). Much of the narrative is comprised of Stevens's memories of his work as a butler during and just after World War II. Stevens harboured romantic feelings for Miss Kenton but he never expressed them.
"It is a story primarily about regret: throughout his life, Stevens puts his absolute trust and devotion in a man who makes drastic mistakes. In the totality of his professional commitment, Stevens fails to pursue the one woman with whom he could have had a fulfilling and loving relationship. His prim mask of formality cuts him off from intimacy, companionship, and understanding."
I liked this film better than Howard's End. Hopkins has given a deeply moving performance. The movie affects you at a deeper level.
Richard Linklater-directed Before Sunset is a sequel to Before Sunrise. In Before Sunrise, Jesse (Ethan Hawke) and Celina (Julie Delpy) meet in Venice, have a nice time, have a scintillating conversation, and even make love in a park late in the night before going their separate paths, without exchanging any phone numbers or any address. They promise to meet on a certain day in Venice. But that meeting never takes place.
Ten years have passed by. And then comes Before Sunset.
Jesse is now married, has a kid, and he has written a novel on his Venice experience. The novel is a best-seller in the US and Jesse comes to Paris on a book tour. The film opens here: Jesse is giving his last book reading in a small book shop. A few hours later, he has a return flight to catch. And as he finishes his talk, there comes Celina. They meet and talk and talk...reminsisning their last meeting, about life, about the world, about their concerns and romance...the whole film is a long converstaion, but what a great conversation it is! I fell in love with this movie.
Know what? Ethan Hawke is also a novelist in real life, and he and Julie actually co-wrote the script and the dialogues. Here's a good review of this film.