After adapting one Henry James novel in 1979, the Merchant Ivory creative team returned to the same fertile ground with this tale of the impact of women’s suffrage on society.
Boston, 1876: At a Women’s Movement meeting, fiercely independent Olive (Vanessa Redgrave) becomes a mentor to gifted young orator Verena (Madeleine Potter) — who soon attracts the amorous attention of Olive’s Southern cousin Basil (Christopher Reeve). The contesting demands of courtship and sapphic friendship in this love-triangle in all but name are further complicated by New York society matron Mrs Burrage (Nancy Marchand), who tries to secure Verena for her son.
Merchant Ivory explores the subtle power struggles between sex, class and the Women’s Movement at the heart of Henry James’s classic novel with delicate precision and a marvellous sense of social milieu.
"''The Bostonians'' is, from its opening shot to last, a rare delight, a high comedy with tragic undertones, acted to passionate perfection by a cast of the best actors ever assembled by the Merchant-Ivory-Jhabvala team." - Vincent Canby, The New York Times
Nominated for the 1985 Academy Awards for Best Actress - Vanessa Redgrave and Best Costume Design - Jenny Beavan and John Bright