20 October 2009 | inkblot11
Wonderful interpretation of Hardy's complicated classic; beautiful stars, beautiful scenery, too
Giles (Rufus Sewell) is the right-hand man to a successful, rural logger. A handsome gent, he and the business owner's daughter, Grace (Emily Woof) grew up together and became very attached. But, the logger always had a chip on his shoulder that he was not refined so he sent his only child to a finishing school for some years. Now, Grace is coming home and Giles is eager to re-establish a relationship with her. But, alas, the beautiful young lady, although quite kind, is hoping to make a better match, having her head filled with bookish nonsense. This stuns Giles but, he keeps on keeping on. Even when he loses his home to a local woman's pettiness, the handsome man stays true to Gracie and his community. As bad luck would have it, there is a new doctor in town and once Gracie meets him, she sets her sights on him and the interest is mutual, resulting in marriage. How can this be, when clearly the doctor is a somewhat pompous and flawed individual and Giles is such a handsome, true-to-you kind of male? This is a complicated tale from the great writer, Thomas Hardy, of 19th century England. Hardy excelled in penning books about ordinary, country folks who sometimes had terrible exchanges with the wealthier, more powerful classes. Tragedy was often the result and the story here is much of the same. Admirably, this film is never melodramatic or forced but tells the complicated story very well. Also, the cast is quite wonderful, all of them, even though Sewell or Polly Walker are the only known actors. Then, too, the setting in the English countryside is very lovely and authentic, showing the beauty and the rustic nature of the existence in another time, another place. Costumes, too, are sensational, the productions values are very fine, and the script and direction are most competent. If you adore the classics, romance, or historical tales, you would do well to search for the Woodlanders. It is a powerful story that would spark a most animated discussion, even as it entertains.