Where Angels Fear to Tread
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Time Out saysThe fostering of Forster in a rash of movies since the mid-'80s continues with this adaptation of the novel in which Lilia Herriton (Mirren), a widow of a certain age, shocks her strait-laced in-laws by wedding the son of an Italian tooth-puller (played by Guidelli with dewy eyes and pouts). When this frightful news reaches Sawston, Mrs Herriton (Jefford) dispatches her son Philip (Graves) to Monteriano to rescue her. He fails. After Lilia dies in childbirth, he returns with his sister Harriet (Davis) to retrieve the bambino, only to fail again - but not before he's fallen for Lilia's former companion Caroline Abbott (Bonham Carter). Stiff upper lips prove no protection against the ancient charms of tourist Tuscany. The performances and scenery cannot be faulted. Mirren, defiantly vulnerable as ever, dominates the movie while she's in it. Thereafter, Davis steals the show as a hilariously hysterical spinster. Graves, too, proves he's not just a pretty face. But though things connect much better than they did in Sturridge's A Handful of Dust, the screenplay degenerates into a static succession of talking heads. Sturridge's work still seems to be TV masquerading as cinema.