Directed by Michael Winterbottom
Starring Christopher Ecclestone, Kate Winslet, Rachel Griffiths, Liam Cunningham
Thomas Hardy's controversial novel is brought to the screen, lovingly directed by Winterbottom. Hardy was most upset over the poor reception the book received. I suppose the reviewers of the day objected to the immorality of unwedded love. However, I found this film incredibly grim and depressing.
Jude (Ecclestone) wishes to be a scholar, but as a poor stone worker he has little hope. He marries Arabella (Griffith) rather rashly, then when she leaves him he falls for his cousin Sue(Winslet). However, she marries and it seems as if Jude will never have either the learning or the love he wants.
The performances are all excellent in different ways. Ecclestone does grim and humourless strength well, Winslet is perfect in the light and frivolous scenes, but also convinces as Sue struggles against the odds. Rachel Griffiths is a lively and dynamic actress. She brightens things a bit.
This is such a joyless and depressing film that I can admire its production values and actors, but I did not enjoy, nor would I recommend unless you were a Hardy fan. There are no laughs to be had, and few light moments. It is tough going. Of course this is due to the novel it is based upon. Hardy always seems to make his characters suffer for their sins. And suffer. I just am not sure if this will be a film anyone would want to see twice.
A real downer. 4/10.
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