James Ivory's meticulous adaptation of E.M. Forster's book depicts the subtle transitions in the British class system in the early 20th century. The film traces the evolving relationship between Henry Wilcox (Hopkins), a restrained and conservative industrialist, and Margaret Schlegel (Thompson) — a poor, yet plucky, younger woman.
Few filmmakers capture period detail like the team of Merchant-Ivory, and this may be their finest hour. Here, a brilliant Hopkins is the personification of upper-class British reserve, while Thompson is expressive and radiant in an Oscar-winning performance. Vanessa Redgrave portrays Hopkins' dying wife with poignancy, and a youthful Helena Bonham Carter is suitably fiery as Thompson's modern sister. Don't miss this literate, human drama of the first order.