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The Winter Guest (1997)

Emma Thompson , Phyllida Law , Alan Rickman  |  R |  DVD
3.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (67 customer reviews)

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Product Details

  • Actors: Emma Thompson, Phyllida Law, Douglas Murphy, Sheila Reid, Tom Watson
  • Directors: Alan Rickman
  • Format: Color, NTSC, Widescreen
  • Language: English
  • Region: Region 1 (U.S. and Canada only. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Rated: R (Restricted)
  • Studio: Image Entertainment
  • DVD Release Date: August 30, 2005
  • Run Time: 108 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 3.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (67 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B0009VNBM4
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #161,411 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)
  • Learn more about "The Winter Guest" on IMDb

Special Features


Editorial Reviews

In this astonishingly beautiful drama, recently widowed photographer Frances (Academy Award(c) winner Emma Thompson) lives with her increasingly distant son and finds her life radically changed with the arrival of her mother, Elspeth (Phyllida Law, Thompson#s real-life mother). In a remote Scottish village, this family and the people around them are forever changed on the coldest day of the year as hearts begin to melt.

Recently widowed photographer Frances (Academy Award winner Emma Thompson) lives with her increasingly distant son and finds her life radically changed with the arrival of her mother, Elspeth.

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
164 of 166 people found the following review helpful
By A Customer
Format:VHS Tape
The second best thing about this film is its lyrical and lovely musical score, with some fine folk songs added in to the mix. The scenery of the frozen Scottish landscape and the quaint town in which the story is staged is beautiful; but it is Thompson's and Law's performances as a typical loving-battling, wanting-to-escape-each-other, forever-bound-together mother and daughter that are stunning. The mother's persistence against all odds is shown from the start, as she walks a harrowing route to her daughter's home, there to ply Thompson from the bathroom where she is hiding from her mother. The bickering begins, with lots of interaction that shows the ordinary tensions between mothers and daughters, but it brings about a catharsis for Thompson's character, who is a widow grieving for a lost husband. Following these two through the few hours of their day together is enthralling. If you are a woman, you are bound to recognize your mother or daughter in this relationship -- it is that typical and that honest. And men can certainly gain insight into women's relationships from this film.
But Thompson's and Law's isn't the only story. Comic and ironic relief is brought by pairs of other characters. Two are elderly women of long acquaintance, who visit a funeral and have some adventures and self-revelations along the way. Another pair are two boys who skip school and hang about the seashore, doing what boys often do and saying what boys often say, in some very humorous and ultimately profound scenes. Then there is a romance, as Thompson's adolescent son is pursued by a rather aggressive young lady in a manner that causes you to wonder if they will make love or end up hating each other.
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93 of 95 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A work of visual beauty.... August 18, 2000
Format:VHS Tape
The setting for "The Winter Guest" (based on the stage play) is a small fishing village in Scotland where the sea is frozen as far as the eye can see. Frances (Emma Thompson) is a professional photographer mired in grief over the recent death of her husband. She cannot make herself climb out of bed -- even for her son. Photographs Frances took of her deceased husband line the walls and run up the stairs. At one point during the film her son tells a friend their house is haunted and his dead father has imprisoned his mother.
One cold winter day, Frances' mother Elspeth (Phyllida Law--Emma's real mother) comes calling -- she is the 'winter guest.' She encourages Frances to start living again. At Elspeth's urging, she and Frances spend the day together walking and talking in the frozen landscape -- Frances with her camera in hand and Elspeth with her cigarettes. At the end of the walk, Frances seems a bit less grieved and the frozen space between the mother and daughter has thawed.
Three subplots have been worked into the main tale: two small boys playing hooky; Frances' son meeting a new girl; and two older ladies taking the #22 bus to an out of town funeral.
Alan Rickman dircted this masterpiece of stunning visual beauty. The film consists of shot after shot of black and white photographs suitable for framing. Some color is provided by the occasional jumper (sweater) or other inanimate object, but mostly this is a black and white film. If you're fascinated with photograpy and/or cinematography, you will enjoy this film. The musical score is lovely and quite appropriate for the setting (piano solos by Michael Kamen with a female vocal during the final credits).
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111 of 119 people found the following review helpful
Format:DVD|Verified Purchase
"The Winter Guest" is Alan Rickman's first film as a director, and what a film it is. Having directed it first in the West End, he makes the transition to film with remarkable ease.

Masterfully acted by his dear friends Emma Thompson and her real-life mum, Phyllida Law as the titular "Guest" (the literal guest--the metaphorical "guest" is the unknown/death/the next stage of growth). She's a rather unwelcome visitor to her grieving daughter's home--having just lost her husband to death she just wants to be left alone. Rickman does something which is becoming rarer and rarer amongst directors: he reveals the characters rather than trying to dazzle us with "aren't I a genius first-time-director" trickery designed to call attention to him, rather than to his story. He does this by using simple, quiet but absolutely exquisite cinematography (by Seamus McGarvey) to capture the wild beauty of the far north of Scotland in the dead of a harsh but beautiful winter, creating almost moonscapes; he allows his actors to work within long takes so that they can fully immerse themselves in their scenes; he artfully intercuts between characters' gestures so as to create a psychological connection that is subtle but significant and is seen first as the approaching Elspeth [Law] slips and grabs a metal handrail, then he cuts to Frances [Thompson] grabbing her metal bed frame as she turns sleeping--this is a Nicolas Roeg technique which serves to wordlessly communicate the connection between the two and is a great example of the uniqueness of the language of cinema, and of how a full grasp of that language deepens a film immeasurably--and very importantly, like the great German director Werner Herzog, he is unafraid of silence and allows it to take us into the center of the film.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Simply Beautiful
I love this movie! It is absolutely one of my all time favorites. The story is moving, funny, and sad. The cast is superb. Read more
Published 17 days ago by mary williams
5.0 out of 5 stars Stunning Performances
Emma Thompson and Phyllida Law give stunning performances in this graceful movie. I wish we had access to more movies of this caliber.
Published 1 month ago by Music Lover
1.0 out of 5 stars Thumbs down on this movie.
Very slow movie. No real plot that I could see. Could not watch all of it , no interest in this movie.
Published 3 months ago by B. Joanne Jones
1.0 out of 5 stars Wouldn't play
I love the movie but the DVD didn't 't play . Movie great; plastic disc not so great. Oh well
Published 3 months ago by Hi
2.0 out of 5 stars WINTER GUEST
Published 3 months ago by AirVenture Fan
1.0 out of 5 stars Boring
Boring. Tossed it. I had expected a better film with Emma Thompson in it. This just shows you they can't pick good movies every time.
Published 5 months ago by Penni C
5.0 out of 5 stars Evokes a mood more than it tells a story as Ebert said
Lovely film. Truly evokes a mood more than it tells a story as Roger Ebert once said. The photography is absolutely stunning. Read more
Published 6 months ago by lamae
1.0 out of 5 stars waste of money
Where would I start. Though because I like .Phyllida Law (Actor), Emma Thompson (Actor), Alan Rickman (Director) | forced myself to sit through the whole thing,and then came to... Read more
Published 6 months ago by Grama
4.0 out of 5 stars A look into the soul
I enjoyed seeing Emma Thompson acting with her mother...very touching! The setting fit the story. It made me rethink the depth of
Published 12 months ago by PowayPenny
5.0 out of 5 stars Great film
I caught this movie on a Sunday on satellite tv and loved it. This film should have been critically acclaimed for the directors use of scenery and lighting to evoke such a first... Read more
Published 13 months ago by RANDY L JESTICE
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