The Remains of the Day ★★★½

I was 18 when this movie premiered in 1993, and had I seen it at the time I wouldn’t have been able to relate at all. Now, at the age of 42, I know more about the hardships of relationships, and it’s such a tragic love story, this film of trials and tribulations on the servants’ circuit.

”Why do you always have to hide the way you feel?”, asks Miss Kenton and pretty much sums up the core of the story. I think it’s something we all can relate to, but here it’s a bit different, since the story takes place in an upper-class environment where people live quite unnatural lives protected by a facade of perfection, whose manners rule their every move and who at first glance have no inner life whatsoever. They’re pretty much robots, sculpted on strict, empty phrases that are in a way scripted before spoken. People who love each other cannot connect due to rules and regulations set up by a high standard society that separates duty and love. The Royal motto of the Swedish monarch Gustaf VI Adolf comes to mind: ”Plikten framför allt” (Duty above all).

There are some truly magical moments in this movie, some emotional nuances that speak to the soul. Anthony Hopkins shines as usual, his eyes telling another story than his words. Maybe his finest moment in acting.

I read Kazuo Ishiguro’s fantastic book a couple of years ago (it’s probably on my top 20 novels of all time, and I read quite a lot), and have been reluctant to watch the movie since it might ruin the novel. Now I’m glad I finally watched it. Even though it’s not on my top 20 list of the best movies of all time, it’s great in so many ways. And the book is even better.