In the spirit of their exquisitely detailed screen adaptations of such literary works as The Europeans and The Bostonians, the creative triumvirate of director James Ivory, producer Ismail Merchant, and screenwriter Ruth Prawer Jhabvala have fashioned a delightfully entertaining comedy of manners based on E. M. Forster's 1908 novel. Released as a film in 1986, A Room With a View is now available on DVD with remixed sound and a widescreen presentation.

Lucy Honeychurch (Helena Bonham Carter), an attractive young English woman, arrives in Florence in 1907 with Charlotte Bartlett (Maggie Smith), her prudish middle-aged aunt. They are very disappointed that their rooms do not have views. At dinner in the pension, Mr. Emerson (Denholm Elliott) offers them the rooms he shares with his handsome son George (Julian Sands). Although embarrassed by this proposal and the frank way it is proffered, the women decide to switch rooms.

While touring the city alone, Lucy happens to witness the violent stabbing of a man; George is nearby when she collapses in shock. The stage is set for intimacy between the two young people, and later, during an outing in the country, he boldly kisses her in a beautiful field of flowers. Charlotte, her eagle-eyed chaperon, witnesses the event and whisks her charge back to England.

Much to the dismay of her fun-loving brother Freddy (Rupert Graves) and the family clergyman, Reverend Beebe (Simon Callow), Lucy has decided to marry Cecil Vyse (Daniel Day Lewis), a priggish bookworm who loves the arts. Both men intuit that she is too passionate a woman for this supercilious fellow. The minister, who is enchanted with Lucy's piano interpretations of Beethoven, remarks: "If she ever lives as she plays, it will be very exciting."

By chance, the Emersons rent a villa nearby. When George learns that Lucy is to marry Cecil, he steals another heated kiss and declares his love for her. Bound by convention to wed the man she has chosen, Lucy faces a conflict between propriety and passion.

A Room With a View is a lovely-looking film that captures Forster's scorn for individuals tethered by class distinctions and conformity. The cast is superb. T. E. Lawrence wrote of the author in 1927: "Forster's world seemed a comedy, neatly layered and staged in a garden whose trim private hedges were delicate with gossamer conventions. About its lawns he rolled thunderstorms in teacups, most lightly, beautifully."

Screenplay writer Ruth Prawer Jhabvala and director James Ivory revel in Lucy's awakening to the possibility of a new life lived in accord with nature and the promptings of the heart. The emancipation of her passion proves to be a thunderstorm in a teacup. And on the screen it shines both lightly and beautifully.