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A Handful of Dust

A Handful of Dust is classy stuff based on an Evelyn Waugh novel, with a high production standard but an essentially empty story.

A Handful of Dust is classy stuff based on an Evelyn Waugh novel, with a high production standard but an essentially empty story.

Kristin Scott Thomas as a lovely but fickle aristocrat is excellent, with an appealing fey manner. The virtual cameo appearances of Alec Guinness, Anjelica Huston and Judi Dench go some way to giving Dust a pedigree it might otherwise not be able to claim.

Set in Britain of the 1930s, at the beautiful country house Hetton Abbey, James Wilby and Scott Thomas and their young son seem content until the weekend visit of idle socialite Rupert Graves.

Scott Thomas slips into an affair with the penniless Graves while Wilby happily wanders his estate unaware he is being cuckolded. When their son is killed in a freak riding accident, Scott Thomas tells her husband she wants a divorce.

When Wilby finds the divorce settlement would mean selling Hetton he promptly sets sail for South America in search of a lost Amazonian city with an eccentric explorer.

Technically, A Handful of Dust cannot be faulted. Where the film disappoints is the story, which though it ably highlights the vacuous attitudes of the English upper classes, is essentially slight.

1988: Nomination: Best Costume Design

A Handful of Dust

UK

  • Production: LWT/Stagescreen. Dir Charles Sturridge; Producer Derek Granger; Screenplay Tim Sullivan, Derek Granger, Charles Sturridge; Camera Peter Hannan; Editor Peter Coulson; Music George Fenton Art Dir Eileen Diss
  • Crew: (Color) Available on VHS. Extract of a review from 1988. Running time: 118 MIN.
  • With: James Wilby Kristin Scott Thomas Rupert Graves Anjelica Huston Alec Guinness Judi Dench
  • Music By: