Those who believe ‘The Silence of the Lambs’ is the best of Anthony Hopkins should watch this finest and recommended period drama from house of Merchant-Ivory productions, based on Booker Prize winning novel by Kazuo Ishiguro. It is written for screen by Ruth Prawer Jhabwala and directed by James Ivory. Playing one of his underrated and underplayed act of his career Hopkins is the man to watch here. He is Mr. Stevens, the Head Butler of the Lord Darlington’s royal mansion in 30’s England. It’s beautiful mansion surrounded in nature’s lap and remains hub of political meetings in the shifting time of the World War. Darlington’s relations with Nazi German diplomats put his own reputation at stake. Stevens is the devoted man to his master and simply irreplaceable keeping the house in perfect order amid army of butlers. Behind his devotion for duty he kept repressing his own personal emotions in the most unfavorable moments of his life.
The film shifts between flashback when the mansion was basking in its glory days of Lord Darlington, now possessed by a new owner Mr. Lewis, a retired US Congressman and Stevens is in dire need of another stalwart companion and once appointed housekeeper Miss Kenton played equally brilliantly by Emma Thompson. The chemistry between Thompson-Hopkins plays emotional hide and seek. As she’s outspoken, more open and he’s the man who avoids being emotional or indulge in idle talk at the time of duty. Moving towards climax, the film reaches emotional high reigniting the spark of two aged players reminiscing about the glorious time and cares for each other but then life has its own plans. It’s one of the most sublime end between two aged lovers who never in entire film expressed their emotions to each other and still made us feel for them. The film has moving and award deserving background score composed by Richard Robbins. Though nominated for 8 academy awards in all major categories that year, unfortunately it didn’t achieve single one. It was the year Spielberg swept the Oscars with ‘Schindler’s List’.