2 Movies Like The Others (2001) On Mubi India

Staff & contributors

With Howards End, the magic trio of producer Ismail Merchant, director James Ivory, and writer Ruth Prawer Jhabvala converted yet another turn-of-the-19th-century EM Forster novel into exquisite cinematic form. Ravishingly shot and performed to career-best heights by many of its cast, Howards End loses nothing of the elegance we expect from a period drama, and yet it also feels thoroughly modern. The film charts the tragic entwining of three families: the progressive and intellectual middle-class Schlegel sisters, the much more traditionally minded and wealthier Wilcox family, and the Basts, a down-on-their-luck working-class couple. It’s the liberally minded Schlegels who cross the class divide of 1910 London to bring these two distant social circles so close to each other, but it’s the old-world values of the Wilcoxes that make that meeting a tragic one. Simmering with rich emotion and crackling with class politics, Howards End is the crowning glory of the Merchant Ivory powerhouse and the rare perfect period drama.

Genre: Drama, Romance

Actor: Adrian Ross Magenty, Allie Byrne, Anne Lambton, Anthony Hopkins, Barbara Hicks, Brian Lipson, Crispin Bonham-Carter, Emma Thompson, Gerald Paris, Helena Bonham Carter, James Ivory, James Wilby, Jemma Redgrave, Jo Kendall, Joseph Bennett, Margery Mason, Mark Payton, Mark Tandy, Mary McWilliams, Nicola Duffett, Patricia Lawrence, Peter Cellier, Prunella Scales, Sally Geoghegan, Samuel West, Simon Callow, Susie Lindeman, Vanessa Redgrave

Director: James Ivory

Rating: PG

The single-take conceit of this high-camp whodunnit set in the world of competitive hairdressing is not without its knots. Without the charity of a cut, it falls on the screenplay to pull us through the film’s murder mystery in real-time, and the result contains more than a few inorganic segues, despite the cast’s best efforts at smoothing things out. What’s more, when the mystery does eventually unravel, it feels unsatisfying in a way that even a heavy round of conventional editing couldn’t resolve.

And yet, with its very game cast; razor-sharp one-liners; inspired hairdos; Robbie Ryan’s wheeling, smartly perspective-hopping cinematography; and a wry chamber-piece premise — in the midst of a cutthroat contest, a senior stylist is found with his scalp removed — Medusa Deluxe still bristles with passion and wit. It’s abundantly clear that first-time director Thomas Hardiman and his crew are as ostentatiously die-hard about their film as the catty characters are about their hair design, and the sheer force of their enthusiasm is enough to zhuzh up even the plot’s flattest moments. A feature debut doesn’t often come without flaws, but it’s equally as rare for one to be as boldly ambitious or as irreverently fun as this.

Genre: Comedy, Crime, Drama, Mystery, Thriller

Actor: Anita-Joy Uwajeh, Clare Perkins, Darrell D'Silva, Harriet Webb, Heider Ali, John Alan Roberts, Kae Alexander, Kayla Meikle, Lilit Lesser, Luke Pasqualino, Michelle Parker, Nicholas Karimi

Director: Thomas Hardiman