A Handful of Dust 1988 ***


The work of British writer Evelyn Waugh has produced notable television (Brideshead Revistited) and film (Vile Bodies), although his satirical intent is often diminished. Charles Sturridge, who directed the Brideshead tv show, does a respectful job of converting Waugh’s A Handful of Dust into cinema, with Tony Last (James Wilby) struggling to come to terms with his wife Brenda (Kristin Scott Thomas) and her infidelity with John Beaver (Rupert Graves). Having nailed this complex relationship, Sturridge also has room for a plethora of high-powered cameos from Judi Dench, Anjelica Huston and notably Alec Guinness, who appears at Mr Todd, the African explorer with a taste for Dickens. The change of scene, from the social ladders of Britain to the depths of Africa, was hard for some to follow, but Sturridge sticks closely to Waugh’s book and makes a cinematic mountain out of a molehill of infidelity.


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