Where Angels Fear to Tread

Overview

A wealthy, upper-class British widow marries a much younger Italian man with disastrous results in this turn-of-the-century costume drama based on the E.M. Forster novel. After marrying into a wealthy family and then losing her husband, middle-aged Lilia Herriton Helen Mirren suffers under the disapproving yoke of her haughty mother-in-law Barbara Jefford. At the suggestion of family friend Caroline Abbott Helena Bonham Carter, Lilia leaves her young daughter and in-laws for a holiday in Italy, where she falls in...
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Overview

A wealthy, upper-class British widow marries a much younger Italian man with disastrous results in this turn-of-the-century costume drama based on the E.M. Forster novel. After marrying into a wealthy family and then losing her husband, middle-aged Lilia Herriton Helen Mirren suffers under the disapproving yoke of her haughty mother-in-law Barbara Jefford. At the suggestion of family friend Caroline Abbott Helena Bonham Carter, Lilia leaves her young daughter and in-laws for a holiday in Italy, where she falls in love with the penniless but handsome Gino Carella Giovanni Guidelli. When she announces her plans to marry Gino, the family dispatches her brother-in-law, Philip Rupert Graves, to prevent the union. But the alternately caddish and thoughtful Philip fails in his mission. Gino proves to be as charming to other women as he is to his wife, but he's genuinely bereaved when she dies in childbirth. Soon, Philip and his high-strung sister, Harriet Judy Davis, arrive in Tuscany in an attempt to spirit away Lilia's son. But the principled Caroline turns up, determined to stop them, setting the stage for unexpected realizations and unforeseeable tragedy. Where Angels Fear to Tread reunites Bonham Carter and Graves, who co-starred in the previous E.M. Forster adaptation, A Room With a View. Each actor also starred in other Forster films: Bonham Carter in Howards End and Graves in Maurice.
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Editorial Reviews

All Movie Guide - Brian J. Dillard
All five E.M. Forster novels received cinematic adaptations in the '80s and '90s. Where Angels Fear to Tread is probably the least celebrated of the lot, but it's still a well-crafted period piece that capably translates the author's sex, class, and national conflicts into a thoughtful, mournful whole. The novel's central idea is that the failure to act is itself a form of action -- especially when that inaction comes from one with the advantages of a privileged background and a sensitive intellect. Rupert Graves deftly captures the contradictory nature of Philip Herriton, the romantic yet caddish Brit who's too morally lazy to do what he knows is right. Helena Bonham Carter, meanwhile, plays a less mercurial Forster heroine than usual: the grave, incisive Caroline Abbott. Judy Davis provides her usual neurotic laughs, while Barbara Jefford and Helen Mirren round out the first-rate British leads. Brideshead Revisited director Charles Sturridge captures the subtle interplay of ideas and passions that enmesh these characters with the Italian gigolo played so ravishingly by Giovanni Guidelli. The only thing Sturridge fails to nail is the beauty and mystery of Italy itself; no one could accuse this somewhat gloomy-looking picture of being a mere picture postcard.
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Product Details

  • Release Date: 4/16/1996
  • UPC: 794043412738
  • Original Release: 1991
  • Rating:

  • Source: New Line Home Video
  • Format: VHS

Cast & Crew

Performance Credits
Helena Bonham Carter Caroline Abbott
Judy Davis Harriet Herriton
Rupert Graves Philip Herriton
Giovanni Guidelli Gino Carella
Barbara Jefford Mrs. Herriton
Helen Mirren Lilia Herriton
Thomas Wheatley Mr. Kingcroft
Sophie Kullman Irma
Vass Anderson Mr. Abbott
Sylvia Barter Mrs. Theobald
Technical Credits
Charles Sturridge Director
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