I stumbled on this DVD at my local library and was hooked from the first. This is a lush and intelligent adapation of Hardy's classic, with wonderful actors, absolutely stunning scenery, and a fabulous, haunting score by Carl Davis.
The protagonist, Eustacia Vye, is rather Scarlett O'Hara-esque: willful, restless, and reckless, she uses her looks and charm to manipulate those around her. Catherine Zeta-Jones brings necessary vulnerability, as well as passion, to the role, and she has both the cool confidence and smoldering beauty to make it inevitable that every man she meets is bewitched by her.
Several of Britain's finest "tried and trues" make up the supporting cast: Joan Plowright as a loving and leery mother, Claire Skinner as her tenderhearted niece, and Steven Mackintosh--in a radical departure from his uber-evil character "The Street" from "Prime Suspect"--is the wise and long-suffering Diggory Venn. Celia Imrie appears as a...
Unlike the previous reviewer, I really liked this movie. It was a fascinating psychological study whether or not it was faithful to the book. Really, if you have read any of Thomas Hardy's books, you know that it would be impossible to turn any of them - even short ones like Jude the Obscure - into a movie shorter than 6 hours without having to sacrifice something! And who could stand that much suffering???
I admit that I'm particular to Catherine Zeta-Jones as she looks a lot like one of my daughters, and I think she did a fine job in this movie silently conveying inner passion and frustrated dreams. She is hypnotic and heartbreaking all at the same time.
Admittedly, Ray Stevenson was rather light and played his part like a kid playing at being an actor, but he was pretty much ignorable next to Catherine and Joan Plowright as his mother, and Steven Mackintosh as Diggory. In fact, Diggory comes across as the wisest and most stable person in the story...
The first time I saw this film, I was very disappointed. It was the first rendition of a Thomas Hardy novel I had seen; and I expected a great deal more than the film delivered. "The Return of the Native" is my favorite Hardy novel, though Clym Yeobright, the main character, is not my favorite Hardy character. In fact, very few of Hardy's characters - especially his male characters - are truly admirable. But then, Hardy is more an anti-Victorian author in that he is attempting to depict real people, not larger-than-life cardboard heroes and heroines. It goes without saying, of course, than Clym's eventual blindness simply mirrors his blindness to those around him - his "tragic flaw." Even so, I found Ray Stevenson's portrayal of Clym convincing in that Stevenson seemed to personify Clym's obtuseness. I did not, however, care for Catherine Zeta-Jones' Eustacia Vye. It wasn't her performance, which was nuanced and accurately captured Eustacia's character. Somehow, she just...
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