Mr. James Stevens, the butler of Darlington Hall located in Oxfordshire, has been the butler to previous owner Lord Darlington, but after Lord Darlington died, an American congressman, Mr. Lewis, buys Darlington Hall and becomes Mr. Stevens's new boss. Mr. Stevens receives a letter from his former housekeeper, Miss Kenton (now Mrs. Benn) who reveals that her and her husband have separated and that she may be interested in returning to Darlington Hall.
The film flashes back and forth between post WWII England to pre-WWII England when Miss Kenton arrived at Darlington Hall and worked there for a couple of years before marrying Mr. Benn.
There are a few period drama actors/actresses in here that you may recognize:
|Emma Thompson||Miss Kenton||Sense and Sensibility (1995) as Elinor Dashwood|
|Anthony Hopkins||Mr. James Stevens||A Doll's House as Torvald Helmer|
|Christopher Reeve||Mr. Lewis||Superman movies as Superman/Clark Kent, Somewhere in Time as Richard Collier|
|James Fox||Lord Darlington||being the brother of Edward Fox (who was in Daniel Deronda)|
|Hugh Grant||Mr. Cardinal||Sense and Sensibility (1995) as Edward Ferrars|
And, on a completely different note, I found it funny that there was a character in there named Richard Carlisle; any relation to Sir Richard Carlisle from Downton Abbey? hehe!
In a way, the premise of The Remains of the Day reminded me a little of Downton Abbey and Upstairs Downstairs, except the focus was more on Mr. Stevens and Miss Kenton, staff members, instead of the time being evenly divided among upstairs and downstairs. In fact, if you've seen Downton Abbey, you might recognize a couple of things (despite the fact that this story takes place about 20 years (in flashbacks) after Downton). You might recognize that Mr. Stevens wore a similar apron and sleeves that Mr. Carson wore (a green apron with black sleeves) and that Mr. Stevens ironed Lord Darlington's newspaper (a couple of students in my class snickered about that, but I knew from Downton Abbey that it was to dry the ink on the paper. Now I feel smart! :-D).
But now onto the characters!
|Miss Kenton and Mr. Stevens|
Miss Kenton did not hide her emotions as well as Mr. Stevens. She expresses her emotions much more freely than Mr. Stevens. While she does not voice her opinions to Lord Darlington, she does express them to Mr. Stevens when she feels that Lord Darlington has done something wrong. In these conversations, even though Mr. Stevens can trust Miss Kenton, he does not express his disagreement with his employer.
The biggest disappointment in this movie was the ending. The movie ended so abruptly with nothing resolved. While I did like this movie, I could not help but feeling, "why did I watch this movie?" BIG SPOILERS So the ending went like this: Mr. Stevens finally meets up with Miss Kenton/Mrs. Benn and Miss Kenton says that her daughter is going to give birth and she would like to be near her grandchild and that Mr. Benn needed her, so she won't be going back to Darlington Hall. Mr. Stevens returns to Darlington and with Mr. Lewis releases a dove that was trapped in the house... The end. So, when the ending came, I felt very dissatisfied. Why did I just watch this? I know I enjoyed it, but still, why did I watch it? Nothing really happened in the plot. It wasn't like most period dramas where you say "Yay! They got married!" or "Aww, he died. How sad." or "They finally achieved their dreams!" Or not even, "Okay, things didn't work out, but he accepts what happened." There was none of that! It was, "He lost out on marrying the only woman he loved and will never see her again and he returns back to work." I was left very empty at the end! END OF BIG SPOILERS But in short, this was my opinion of the story: to quote Maggy from Little Dorrit, "Well, that's not much of a story, is it?"
Like Downton Abbey and Upstairs, Downstairs, there are references to real historical events in The Remains of The Day. Lord Darlington makes a mention about the Treaty of Versailles that ended WWI what the effect it had on Germany. The film itself focuses on the events that lead up to WWII: there are some political events and dinners that are shown in the film which show the sentiments that people had at the time.
|The table being set for dinner at Darlington Hall|
|Mrs. Benn and Mr. Stevens in late 1940s fashions|
I liked watching The Remains of the Day, but my complaint mostly lies with how it ended. The ending made me feel like, "Okay, why did I watch this movie?" (Okay, I know it was for class, but in other circumstances, that would have been my reaction). Other than the ending, it was a decent film. Everything looked nice and the acting was good. If only the ending were a bit better... But honestly, if you want to watch something that have servants as main characters, I would go for Downton Abbey or Upstairs, Downstairs instead.
There isn't much content to speak of in The Remains of the Day. It is rated PG for Themes, which might be because of the talk about the politics in Germany when the Nazis were coming into power. Other than that, there really wasn't much that was objectionable.
The Remains of the Day is available on DVD. It runs for 134 minutes.