September 06, 2006

Mr. Woo Goes To The Movies


Has anybody out there ever seen the 1988 film version of Evelyn Waugh's A Handful of Dust? Is it Netflix-worthy?

The cast looks promising at any rate. Judy Dench would be perfect as Mrs. Beaver and I'm sure Alec Guiness would be suitably chilling as the deranged Mr. Todd. Rupert Graves as John Beaver? Yes, I suppose that would work.

I've never heard of James Wilby, so I don't know how he'd do as poor old Tony. As for Kristin Scott Thomas as Brenda, I've certainly heard of her but don't recall seeing her work. Brenda is the single most loathsome characters I can think of in all of Waugh's novels, so it would be interesting to see how Thomas deals with her.

Anyhoo, if you've ever seen this flick, I'd be glad of your opinions. (Keep in mind, of course, my general opinion on screen adaptations of novels.)

UPDATE: Well, I've ordered it up at Netflix anyway. Reading through the comments there, it seemed to me that most criticism of the movie (evidently written by people who had not read the book) centered around the horrible ending of the story. I imagine that it might well have been some similar contemporary criticism that prompted Waugh to write a short story entitled "By Special Request" which is actually an alternative ending to Handful of Dust which cuts out the dark fall of Tony Last and instead substitutes a rather bland, ambiguous conclusion. I have to say that I don't like it very much. Evidently, I'm not the only one.

Posted by Robert at September 6, 2006 10:03 AM | TrackBack

Have not seen it, but look forward to your review!

Posted by: ken at September 6, 2006 05:15 PM

I saw it way back when, with all those other English adaptations like Maurice, A Room with a View, Where Angels Fear to Tread, etc. I believe Rupert Graves was in all of them. Maybe there was some sort of legislation requiring it. James Wilby might have been in all of them, too. He's the perfect bland, blond, upperclass cipher.

As such, he's perfect at the beginning of A Handful of Dust but doesn't really hold up the end, when it all focuses on Tony. But Kristen Scott Thomas is great as Brenda. What a dreadful woman, and she plays it so well.

Looking forward to your review.

If you're at all interested in Where Angels Fear to Tread, btw, Judy Davis is hilarious.

Posted by: ak at September 6, 2006 11:01 PM

Kristin Scott Thomas is at her loveliest, and hits the appropriate notes of Wavian loathsomeness.

Wilby (who was sponsor of the "Give UK actors with floppy hair work in period films" bill passed by Parliament in 1985) is perfectly feckless. Just right for the role, but a bit tedious to watch. (Hey, that's how it was written)

Hard Cheese on Tony, indeed.

Posted by: adbomaha at September 7, 2006 11:55 AM