22 May 2017

Jude

Jude 1996
  • Director: Michael Winterbottom
  • Based on the book by Thomas Hardy
  • Cast: Christopher Eccleston, Kate Winslet, Liam Cunningham, Rachel Griffiths
  • Personal “oh yeah him/her” reaction, i.e. have seen this actor in:
    • Christopher Eccleston – Fortitude, Doctor Who, 28 Days Later, The Others, eXistenZ, Elizabeth, Shallow Grave
    • Kate Winslet – Contagion, The Reader, The Holiday, Little Children, Romance and Cigarettes, Extras, Finding Neverland, Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, Hideous Kinky, Titanic, Hamlet, Sense and Sensibility
    • Liam Cunningham – Doctor Who, Merlin,
    • Rachel Griffiths – Six Feet Under, Ned Kelly, Very Annie Mary, Blow, Hilary & Jackie, Muriel’s Wedding
  • Why? Christopher Eccleston and the novel
  • Seen: 26 March 2017 with Hal and YW in our read-book-see-film group      

       In my next life I’m going to be a movie director making movies in England. This one starts with outstandingly beautiful black and white Wessex landscapes.
       I love this novel. It’s the tragic story of Jude, a poor country stonemason who aspires to become a scholar. Class rigidity puts unsurmountable obstacles in his way. Youthful foolish passion for Arabella locks him into late 19th century gender prison. He marries, is separated from his wife, meets the love of his life, Sue. Because he can’t marry her she marries another. In defiance of conventional morality Sue and Jude live together. It does not go well. None of Jude’s dreams are achieved.
       The novel is an impassioned protest against religion and marriage. Jude is ruled by naïve passions, Sue by intellectual questioning.
       Eccleston does a very strong Jude. Griffiths is good as Arabella, though too thin. Winslet has her moments but is too 1990’s to portray the truly radical but innocent 1880’s Sue. A small detail perhaps but having Sue smoke cigarettes doesn’t work at all. Explicit sex scenes jar badly with the novel’s supressed and agonised passion. Other odd directorial choices make this film less good than it should be. The beautifully done scenes of the landscapes and towns are not enough to evoke the atmosphere of Hardy’s bleak and pessimistic novel, nor the depth and complexity of the characters.
       It was a happy surprise to see David Tennant (the tenth Doctor Who after Eccleston’s Nine) pop up in a very short scene as a scholar but even that is not enough to make this film the masterpiece that the novel is.
       The last twenty minutes are strong but not at all like the novel.
       The scenery as a separate entity and Eccleston as Jude get 5 * but the film as a whole

2 ½ * of 5   




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