The tall guy (1989)

The Tall Guy is a 1989 British romantic comedy starring Emma Thompson, Jeff Goldblum and Rowan Atkinson.

The protagonist is an American actor working in London who plays in a long-running comedy.

He suffers from chronic hay fever so he subjects himself to a course of injections, and at hospital he meets and falls in love with Kate (played by Emma), who works there as a nurse.

It’s a modest comedy, a mix between a modern musical and a funny but bad play and it marks Emma’s film debut.

The movie is a hodgepodge of weird scenes thrown together in the middle of which stands out a ridiculous sex scene during which the protagonists destroy the bedroom, crush a bag of milk sitting on it, she breaks a teapot on his head, they drop paintings from the wall and play the piano with headbutts.

Emma said: “There was shots of my arse with bits of toast stuck to it. Two fucking days of being nude on set!”.

Fortunately, Emma’s subsequent films were much better but in this debut film she has nevertheless shown to be talented for comedy.

Stranger than fiction (2006)

Karen Eiffel is a chain-smoker famous writer, struggling with writer’s block and she is trying to come up with the ending of a story (she always kills her main characters but this time she cannot find a way to kill his protagonist at the end of the story).

Harold Crick is an average man working as IRS agent, who lives his life according to routine until something upsets him: he begins to hear a mysterious female voice narrating his life. It’s Karen’s voice and Harold is unknowingly the protagonist of Karen’s novel so he’s doomed to die.

Great cast, nice movie, original and interesting script.

Will Ferrell, supremely gifted in comedic roles, puts on a good performance in a more serious role.

Emma is very convincing playing the weird writer.

Emma Thompson and…

Fionn Whitehead!

Fionn Whitehead

Emma and Fionn Whitehead have said that they formed a special bond while filming the movie The Children Act.

The dynamic about and between Emma Thompson and Fionn Whitehead constitutes the film’s intensity. She plays an irreproachable but yet very human judge who sees her life intertwined with a very involving judicial case concerning a young Jeovah’s witness who refuses blood transfusion. He feels a strong attraction to her because she listens to him, she represents the outside world, made of questions, music and poetry. She introduces him to Yeats poems and he likes being young and foolish.

Whitehead shares his admiration for Thompson. “She’s a lovely human being and a safe pair of hands,” he tells “I felt so comfortable around her and we got along like a house on fire. Both the book and the film are at the most basic level about human connection. That was the easiest thing to do with Emma because she’s so giving and open.”

“Every scene we had felt like it had an incredibly high level of distress and emotion, plus a lot never felt like they had a definite ending. But it was made so much easier by having Emma around – she was so loving and kind. It was really great to be able to talk to her openly and chat and joke around and everything to defuse the tension at the end of the day”.

Before we started, we did a few rehearsals and got a bit of time to hang out and chat. I went to her house and she made me breakfast one day with Richard Eyre. That was really amazing, just to be able to get to know each other before we stepped on set. I always think that the more you know someone, the better you’ll be able to act together. We talked about the script, talked about the role but we also told each other how we were and had some food together. I couldn’t have asked for more from her – on or off set.”

King Lear (2018)

King Lear is a 2018 British-American television film directed by Richard Eyre. It is an adaptation of the play by Shakespeare, starring Anthony Hopkins, Emma Thompson, Emily Watson and Florence Pugh.

The movie also features Jim Broadbent, Jim Carter, Anthony Calf.

King Lear

The story is set in an alternative universe in the 21st-century; in a highly militarised London, the sovereign and military dictator King Lear gathers his family in the presence of his troops to make arrangements for his will and he announces the division of his kingdom among his three daughters.

The two elder daughters, Regan and Goneril, declare loyalty to the sovereign while the youngest of the sisters, Cordelia, fails in her filial flattery and is disowned and ousted from the inheritance, which is now entirely divided between Regan and Goneril and she will have to rely only on his own devices to survive.

Emma Thompson – Goneril

Later Goneril will accuse her father of dotage.

Anthony Hopkins is brilliant and mesmerizing in his performance, his monologues are overwhelming and touching, he careens from furious to sentimental, his madness is imbued with humanity and vulnerability.

Emma Thompson – King Lear

Emma Thompson is stunning as the ambitious Goneril, and her presence gives luster and elegance to the film.

Emma and Tony demonstrate once again how well they work together.

Emma said of Anthony Hopkins’ performance “I will never see a better Lear, I know that. I will die not having seen anyone do it better.”

King Lear – The cast

Dolittle (2020)

Besides being an actress, Emma is also a dubber. On Dolittle she voices a nice macaw.

Doctor Dolittle is famous for his ability to talk to animals, taught precisely by his parrot friend Polynesia, voiced by Emma Thompson.

Robert Downey jr and Emma Thompson

Polynesia (Poly for short), serves as Dolittle’s most trusted advisor and confidant.

Differences and similarities between The remains of the day and Downtown Abbey

Becoming servants was the only way out to redeem a life of poverty and people who lived downstairs wanted to improve their working position.

“Downstairs” there was a world teeming with hope, jealousy, strife, dedication to work, sufferings and small joys.

Sometimes the servants got married and left the house. For the butler and the housekeeper, instead, it was difficult (if not impossible) to make a life outside work because they were the highest servants in rank, they were perpetually committed of service to their employers and they had many responsibilities, also over other staff such as training new staff members, organising the staff schedule, and hiring or firing the underservants. So almost always they retired without ever getting married.

Mr Stevens is the quintessence of the perfect butler and he never really gives Miss Kenton’s love a chance. Their relationship is so frustrating and every time she tries to start a romantic conversation with him, he systematically brings the conversation back to a professional level. The sweet fondness between Mr. Carson and Mrs. Hughes of Downton Abbey brings to mind the story of Mr Stevens and Miss Kenton so I’m sure that their relationship is inspired by The Remains of the day.

Unlike Mr Stevens and Miss Kenton, Mr Carson and Mrs Hughes choose to give themselves a chance perhaps because they are older and on the threshold of retirement, maybe because they fear the prospect of facing old age in solitude. Anyway the decide to get married.

But the relationship (emotional and professional) between the butler and the housekeeper is not the only similarities between “The remains of the day” and “Downton Abbey”. Many scenes are inspired by “The remains of the day”, starting with the butler who irons the newspaper, the table set using the measuring tape and another pivotal scene in which we see Carson mirroring himself in the tray as Stevens did stealthily.

There is another scene borrowed from “The remains of the day” which concerns two other characters: Edith on her bicycle makes us immediately think about the arrival of Miss Kenton at Darlington Hall, both bikes are black and have a basket on the handlebars and the two women are both wearing hat and black gloves, although some details in the clothing show us the different social class of the two.

But if “The remains of the day” has highlighted Steven’s blind fidelity to Lord Darlington showing the incommunicability between the servants and the lords, divided as two different worlds, “Downton Abbey” focuses on two worlds that often communicate and sometimes meet, it shows the analogies between the servants and the nobles facing love and life problems, and gives everyone the chance for redemption and the hope and the possibility of a better life.

Emma Thompson and…

… Paul Giamatti!

Paul Giamatti

Paul Giamatti is an American actor and producer. His paternal grandfather’s family were Italian emigrants and the family surname was originally spelled “Giammattei“.

So far Emma and Giamatti have acted together in a single movie but they have shown great chemistry and they have been proved to be a well assorted couple.

I hope that in the future they are planning to make more films together because I really love Giamatti’s acting.

On Saving Mr Banks he plays Ralph, Travers’ chauffeur, and the two, after some initial diffidence, gradually develop a great empathy so much so that in the end she allows him to call her by name, despite her dislike of Americans, except Ralph, evidently.

Ralph with his politeness penetrates the depths of her heart while for all the others she is unpleasant and high-handed.

For me one of the most touching scenes is that in which he takes her to the airport and they say goodbye. Great acting and lots of feeling from both actors!

Effie Gray (2014)

The story of Effie Gray, that took place in the Victorian age, is full of unanswered questions. It’s based on the true story of John Ruskin, a visionary art critic and his young wife Effie: he never touched his wife because perhaps he imagined her pure, pale and he couldn’t love her in the flesh.

Ruskin (Greg Wise) was not attracted to Effie (Dakota Fanning), he probably expected her to be the same as the white, Greek statues that he used to study and admire, so when he first saw her naked he was shocked. In the film, from a screenplay written by Emma Thompson, there is no conclusion as to why Ruskin rejected her.

Emma Thompson plays Lady Eastlake, a nice woman who breaks stereotypes about the sullenness of Victorian women and asks her questions and receives answers so she decides to guide Effie out of her unhappy marriage. For Effie she is like a light in the darkness.

Luckily for Effie, the story has a happy ending: she secures an annulment after proving her husband had never consummated their union, and then she marries the artist John Everett Millais.

Effie Gray is a slow movie, actors act on tiptoe, the viewers perceive the dramatic mood, the whispers and the tears. Lady Eastlake is the only cheerful person, the only one who laugh heartily in the scene in which she leaves the house of Ruskins and gets into the carriage with her husband, played by James Fox.

Some scenes were shot in Venice. It’s exciting Effie’s escape through the alleyways chased by the naughty Venetian man played by Riccardo Scamarcio.

Emma Thompson and…

Dustin Hoffman!

Dustin Hoffman

They worked together on Stranger than fiction, Last chance Harvey and The Meyerowitz stories.

Hoffman explains that starring “Last chance Harvey” they both decided to play close to themselves as much as they could, without acting but just being themselves.

They get along very well off the set, I think they are a good couple but I am convinced that he is not the best partner for Emma, despite he is one of the best living actors in the world.