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If you've never seen the 1992 gem "Howards End," this restoration is a golden opportunity to get acquainted with this gorgeously mounted tale of love and class divides.

The venerable team of director James Ivory, producer Ismail Merchant and screenwriter Ruth Prawer Jhabvala were never better than with this adaptation of E.M. Forster's novel of three families from different economic circles in London of the early 1900s. Middle-class Margaret Schlegel (Emma Thompson) befriends Ruth Wilcox (Vanessa Redgrave), the long-ailing wife of businessman Henry Wilcox (Anthony Hopkins) — while Margaret's sister, Helen (Helena Bonham Carter), becomes close to working-class clerk Leonard Bast (Samuel West), who falls into destitution after taking bad advice from Henry through the Schlegels.

Jhabvala's Oscar-winning script deftly juggles the characters' romantic and financial travails, and Ivory's delicate direction manages to cut to the emotional core. Thompson justly won an Academy Award for her performance as the level-headed Margaret, holding her own in moving scenes with Hopkins and Redgrave.

'Howards End'

Opens Friday, Sept. 16, at the Tower Theatre; rated PG for mild language, violence and sensuality; 140 minutes.