With dignified performances from the two leads, the adaptation of Kazuo Ishiguro’s succinct, elliptical Booker Prize-winning novel, The Remains of the Day, is quiet and elegant.
Symbolic of decline of Empire and misguided loyalty, the late 1950s sale at auction of Darlington Hall to a former American diplomat sets in motion memories of ‘the way it was’ for butler, Stevens (Anthony Hopkins – Silence of the Lambs, The Two Popes). Travelling to the west country to persuade former housekeeper, Miss Kenton (Emma Thompson – Howards End, Love Actually) to rejoin the depleted household, Stevens is reminded of the pre-war heyday under Lord Darlington (James Fox – The Servant, The Day of the Jackal) and the obvious but overlooked feelings the two staff members had for each other.
With Darlington disgraced for his pro-Nazi sympathies, the concept of service – both above and below stairs – is gently explored in the ever-successful partnership of director James Ivory, writer Ruth Prawer Jhabvala and producer Ismail Merchant (Howards End, A Room With a View).
Nominated for 8 Oscars in 1994 including best film, actor, actress, director, adapted screenplay.