"Merchant and Ivory have regathered many of the cast and crew from their earlier films to work on this reproduction to exquisite effect. It is probably harder to gain sympathy for stuffy Mr. Wilcox than for Hannibal Lecter, yet Hopkins does it without seeming to try. And James Wilby, who plays spoiled heir Charles Wilcox, manages to be as shallow as a silver spoon. But the film's driving force is Thompson, who balances delicately along its ironic edge like a tightrope walker with an umbrella. Redgrave is delicacy itself, fine as bone china with a thin crack visible only when held up to the light. And Bonham Carter, who played opposite Mel Gibson in "Hamlet," obviously brings a little of mad Ophelia to her disconcertingly comic role.
Like all the other Merchant-Ivory-Jhabvala films, "Howards End" is fleet but not in a hurry. The scenes are clear and lean against the richness of the setting, but they flow leisurely toward the climax, like a punt bearing two lovers languidly downstream. Naturally the picture includes the punt and the lovers, the quiet stream, the willows moping along the verdant bank. If Merchant, Ivory and Jhabvala have anything to do with it, there'll always be an England."