Howards End (1992) - Rotten Tomatoes

Howards End (1992)



Critic Consensus: A superbly-mounted adaptation of E.M. Forster's tale of British class tension, with exceptional performances all round, Howard's End ranks among the best of Merchant-Ivory's work.

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One of the best Ismail Merchant/James Ivory films, this adaptation of E. M. Forster's classic 1910 novel shows in careful detail the injuriously rigid British class consciousness of the early 20th century. The film's catalyst is "poor relation" Margaret Schlegel (Emma Thompson), who inherits part of the estate of Ruth Wilcox (Vanessa Redgrave), an upper-class woman whom she had befriended. The film's principal characters are divided by caste: aristocratic industrial Henry Wilcox (Anthony Hopkins); middle-echelon Margaret and her sister Helen (Helena Bonham Carter); and working-class clerk Leonard Bast (Sam West) and his wife (Nicola Duffett). The personal and social conflicts among these characters ultimately result in tragedy for Bast and disgrace for Wilcox, but the film's wider theme remains the need, in the words of the novel's famous epigram, to "only connect" with other people, despite boundaries of gender, class, or petty grievance. Filmed on a proudly modest budget, Howards End offers sets, spectacles, and costumes as lavish as in any historical epic. Nominated for 9 Oscars, including Best Picture and Best Director, the film took home awards for Thompson as Best Actress, Ruth Prawer Jhabvala's adapted screenplay, and Luciana Arrighi's art direction.

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Anthony Hopkins
as Henry Wilcox
Vanessa Redgrave
as Ruth Wilcox
Helena Bonham Carter
as Helen Schlegel
Emma Thompson
as Margaret Schlegel
James Wilby
as Charles Wilcox
Samuel West
as Leonard Bast
Jemma Redgrave
as Evie Wilcox
Nicola Duffett
as Jacky Bast
Prunella Scales
as Aunt Juley
Joseph Bennett
as Paul Wilcox
Adrian Ross Magenty
as Tibby Schlegel
Ian Latimer
as Station Master
Mary Nash
as Pianist
Siegbert Prawer
as Man Asking a Question
Susan Lindeman
as Dolly Wilcox
Mark Tandy
as Luncheon Guest
Andrew St. Clair
as Luncheon Guest
Anne Lambton
as Luncheon Guest
Emma Godfrey
as Luncheon Guest
Duncan Brown
as Luncheon Guest
Iain Kelly
as Luncheon Guest
Atlanta White
as Maid at Howards End
Gerald Paris
as Porphyrion Supervisor
Allie Byrne
as Blue Stocking
Sally Geoghegan
as Blue Stocking
Paula Stockbridge
as Blue Stocking
Bridget Duvall
as Blue Stocking
Lucy Freeman
as Blue Stocking
Harriet Stewart
as Blue Stocking
Tina Leslie
as Blue Stocking
Mark Payton
as Percy Cahill
David Delaney
as Simpson's Carver
Mary McWilliams
as Wilcox Baby
Barbara Hicks
as Miss Avery
Rodney Rymell
as Chauffeur
Luke Parry
as Tom, the Farmer's Boy
Antony Gilding
as Bank Supervisor
Crispin Bonham-Carter
as Colonel Fussell
Patricia Lawrence
as Wedding Guest
Peter Cellier
as Colonel Fussell
Margery Mason
as Wedding Guest
Jim Bowden
as Marlett
Alan James
as Porphyrion Chief Clerk
Jocelyn Cobb
as Telegraph Operator
Terence Sach
as Delivery Man
Brian Lipson
as Police Inspector
Barr Heckstall-Smith
as Helen's Child
Simon Callow
as Music Lecturer
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News & Interviews for Howards End

Critic Reviews for Howards End

All Critics (67) | Top Critics (24)

From start to finish, Howards End is a sumptuous visual delight. But the beauty of this film is far more than skin deep.

March 4, 2020 | Full Review…

A more troubling and rigorous inquest into a bygone era than usual.

August 1, 2017 | Full Review…

Deeply romantic, political, emotion-led, respectful of music and literature, impeccably dressed and, in one of the characters' own words, "overexpressive".

July 30, 2017 | Rating: 5/5 | Full Review…

In its own severe and occasionally stolid way, Howards End offers real passion.

July 28, 2017 | Rating: 4/5 | Full Review…

The high watermark of Merchant Ivory film-making.

July 27, 2017 | Rating: 5/5 | Full Review…

A can't-miss opportunity to experience some of the finest filmmaking of the 20th century.

October 21, 2016 | Rating: 4/4 | Full Review…

Audience Reviews for Howards End


Vibrant filmmaking at its finest, every frame a painting, the dynamic explored are the underlying tensions between two upperclass turn-of-the-century English families, a plot of land with a house on it between them.

Kevin M. Williams
Kevin M. Williams

Super Reviewer

The Merchant-Ivory adaptation of E.M. Forster's "Howards End" is a flat out masterpiece. It's the perfect storm of literature, production design, ensemble acting, costumes, lavish cinematography and beautiful dialogue. The film is emotionally resonant, existentially complex, and profoundly thrilling at times. For a two and a half hour film, the pacing is engaging and lively thanks to the precisely placed camera and magnetic performances. This is tremendous filmmaking.

Steven Carrier
Steven Carrier

Super Reviewer

Howards End is so stunningly beautiful it's like looking at a 140-minute long postcard. It's also just as slow-paced, though. And quite talky. But watching these incredible characters talk, quarrel and love is what makes this film a pleasure. The cast is impeccable: Emma Thompson, Helena Bonham Carter, Vanessa Redgrave, Samuel West, Nicola Duffett and Anthony Hopkins deliver top-notch performances.

Fernando Rafael Quintero Castañeda
Fernando Rafael Quintero Castañeda

Super Reviewer

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