The Movie: The Inheritance
The Pairing: Edith Adelon (Cari Shayne) and James Percy (Thomas Gibson)
The Moment: Edith asks James to stay.
Old-fashioned romance will never grow tiresome. No matter how many times I see it conveyed on screen or vividly told in a book, everything about it is what real romance is about. Not every romantic scene has to involve a kiss. Sometimes a touch, a glance or a word is enough. As I sat down to recently re-watch The Inheritance, I sincerely forgot how well this film answers to that sort of romance.
Edith and James
Based on the novel by Louisa May Alcott, the story follows the Hamilton family and their ward, Edith Adelon. Edith is a companion to their daughter, Amy, and quite inexperienced in society. That all changes when the Hamilton’s guest, James Percy arrives. From their first meeting to dancing lessons, a quiet spark ignites between the pair. James admires Edith’s quiet grace, her passion for enjoying everything life has to offer and living it to the fullest, as she bends a few of society’s rigid rules. Edith sees in James a gentleman who is a romantic (he doesn’t love easily, but when he does, it’s deep) and honorable man. For a little while, Edith allows herself the luxury of believing she could be a part of James world until she experiences the price of being a part of his world means. This inspires her to push him away and following unexpected events that change so much, Edith’s choice to risk her heart.
FILM SPOILERS BELOW
The Romantic Moment
Following an unpleasant situation only moments before, Edith leaves to collect herself, feeling confused after being accused of something she didn’t do. She’s torn between keeping a confidence and knowing a secret that would change everything in the Hamilton household. Having been witness to her shame, James follows behind her. He finds her standing, gazing out the window (the staging of this scene is as beautiful as the scene that follows). Having fallen in love with her, he tells her he needs no explanation for the accusations laid at her door – he knows she wouldn’t betray the Hamiltons. Instead, he pleads with her with his heart. “Edith, let me take you away from here. I could make you safe and… if you let me, I might even make you happy again.”
Turning around, Edith retains her defense mechanisms, holding back tears. “You’re being a true friend…” she continues, “This isn’t a kindness I deserve.”
“This isn’t the kindness of a friend you hear…” As Edith turns away from him, he follows, forcing her to face him again as he grasps her hands. Softly James proceeds with the confession he’s kept quiet. “I’m trying to tell you I’m in love with you.”
Wonderment crosses Edith’s face, yet she persists in insisting on dealing with her turmoil privately as she tells him there is nothing she could give him. He doesn’t see it that way. Continuing, he asks for only one thing. “Only your heart. Which is more than I could ever hope for.” He pleads with her, “Edith… come away with me.”
With a bittersweet resolution, she replies, “Had you said these words even an hour ago, I could’ve told you I’ve loved you from the moment I saw you. But you can’t take me away from the shame that goes with me now.” She’s certain what she feels will follow her wherever she goes. She refutes any final pleas he wishes to make, leaving him standing alone as she leaves. Ever the gentleman, he stays behind and watches her walk away.
Following this conversation, the Hamiltons discover the secret Edith had been carefully guarding. It’s this secret that changes the truth of the Hamilton household and gives Edith the thing she wants most: the forgiveness and loving acceptance of those she loved most.
The next scene shows Edith standing at the window, watching as James gives final instructions to the driver of his carriage. He’s preparing to leave.
Watching this from above, Edith’s face speaks of regret. Is this really what she wants? Picking up her skirts, she allows herself freedom (for the first time) to pursue what she wishes for, down the winding staircase she runs and out the front door.
Hearing someone coming up behind him, James turns as Edith comes to a halt, standing in front of him. The music slows and the two speak no words. Edith looks about to speak, and instead, hesitantly she reaches her hand up to caress his cheek. Gentle and quiet as her gesture is, it leaves no room for doubt: she is telling James she wants him to stay… she chooses him.
Still no words are exchanged, but with joy, James’ gently takes her fingers in his hand and kisses her fingertips. Ever so slowly, he leans down and gently, kisses Edith, sealing their love and what is, the start of a happy future.
Have you seen The Inheritance? What is your favorite scene between Edith and James? Comment down below with your thoughts!
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