The Remains of the Day ★★★★★
6.20-9.00pm Sony Movie Channel
One of Merchant/Ivory’s best, this clever adaptation of Kazuo Ishiguro’s novel. It’s told in flashback as Anthony Hopkins, the butler at stately Darlington Hall, drives to meet the hall’s former housekeeper, Emma Thompson, after many years. What unfolds is a tale of two relationships – an unstated romantic one between Hopkins and Thompson, and a master-servant one between Hopkins and the late Lord Darlington (James Fox). In the late 1930s, the well-meaning but misguided Fox, though not a fascist, was an appeaser, who – along with more sinister men – sympathised with Germany and sought to keep Britain out of the war. The almost fanatically loyal Hopkins realised too late what was going on and realised, too, that he had wasted his life in the service of an undeserving man. A brilliantly understated, unemotional performance by Hopkins is well supported by Thompson and Fox. 1930s Darlington Hall is Britain in microcosm – a feudal state ruled by the aristocracy where the working classes knew their place.
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