Review of 'Where Angels Fear to Tread'

wear_angels_fear_to_tread.jpg I can't say I am a big fan of period drama. Shows like “Downton Abbey” and Jane Austen adaptations do not really grab me, I find them, for the most part (there are ALWAYS exceptions), boring and not at all interesting. I suppose this is part of my general disinterest in fashion, soap operas, celebrity, etc. - “Where Angels Fear to Tread” is just a classically set piece that incorporates all of these things so it was unlikely I was ever really going to enjoy it…

In the early 20th century socialite Lilia Herriton (Dame Helen Mirren) travels with friend Caroline Abbott (Helena Bonham Carter) to Italy where she falls in love with a young local dentist Gino Carella (Giovanni Guidelli). Her straight-laced mother-in-law Mrs. Herriton (Barbara Jefford) is appalled sending her own son Philip (Rupert Graves) to Italy to persuade Lilia to return. He is sent home empty handed as Lilia, always independent, is happy with her decision. The marriage is not all sweetness and light with abuse coming from her Italian husband who finds it difficult to cope with his independently minded wife. This changes when Lilia becomes pregnant though eventually dies giving birth. Gino, deeply moved by his new son, is determined to keep him despite Mrs. Herriton's determination to return the child to England…

Yeah, I was not overly impressed though “Where Angels Fear to Tread” did have a bit of a surprise ending. This is a film of early 20th-century social norms, of a socially elite and aloof family struggling to cope with a woman determined to walk her own path. There are lots of stereotypes here so it is easy to quickly understand the dynamics. How these characters react is what is surprising. Also surprising is the occasional outbreaks of violence which is like ice water in the face, very powerful. As far as performances are concerned, both Helen Mirren and her erst-while husband Giovanni Guidelli put on extremely compelling performances as the only characters we really empathise with. Mirren really convinces us she is rebelling simply for the sake of rebelling using the dentist as a means to upset her overbearing mother-in-law, not entirely committed to the love that we see emerge in Guidelli's character. Ultimately, this is a tragedy with quite a hard-hitting ending.

Not a fan of period drama but I did find “Where Angels Fear to Tread”, putting aside the stereotypical characters, reasonably interesting.

Rating: “It is OK but I have some issues”

Review Date: 2020-03-28

Directed by: Charles Sturridge

Studio: Sovereign Pictures

Year: 1991

Length: 116 minutes

Genre: Melodrama