Howards End is not new to the screen, having been adapted by the book written by E.M. Forester’s into a movie in 1992 staring Emma Thompson and Anthony Hopkins. Starz has a new series out that expands on the movie version in four parts, starring Hayley Atwell and Matthew Macfayden.
It’s a slow moving and somewhat odd story of three families in the scheme of English society, focusing on the middle-class Schlegels, a wealthy family named the Wilcoxes, and a poor working class family named the Basts.
The Schlegel family, who consist of three siblings, meet the Wilcoxes, and through various interactions and visitations become acquaintances. Margaret Schlegel forms a friendship with Mrs. Wilcox. At her death, she leaves her family home, Howards End, to Margaret. The children and Mr. Wilcox decide that the bequest scrawled on a piece of paper during her illness should not be honored.
As time passes, Mr. Wilcox forms an attachment to Margaret. In the storyline enters the Basts, who have an integral part to play in the tale of the three families. Frankly, it’s a convoluted intersecting of all involved. The story is filled with conversation in every scene, which requires your attention to understand the characters and their motivations for their behavior.
Having watched the 1992 version and this mini-version, I am inclined to prefer the latest Starz television production. It’s well acted, with good choices of those who played the parts of each of these complicated characters. The story is definitely not for everyone, and probably enjoyed more by those who love the Edwardian era before WWI. The sets and costumes are done very well, which helps to immerse the audience into the times and values of the day.
I’ll throw four kernels at the screen for this one.