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19 out of 20 people found the following review useful:


Author: elipicayo from United States
10 June 2005

I wish Hollywood would watch these "normal" budget movies and get a hint. Although movies with lots special effects and CGI are fun to watch they don't really sink into our minds, and, in general, have a lousy story.

These UK movies are extremely well acted, with an excellent and smart dialogue. The photography is out of this world and the sound is well adapted to each of the scenes.

In particular, this movie, although long and complicated in story, zipped by my eyes and kept me glued to my chair while I was watching it. The characterizations are flawless and the acting by all the cast members is invisible and professional. You'd think that you're watching real "real" people. They bring the characters to life in an adult way. Of special mention is Celia Imrie in her portrayal of Vera. This actress gets my personal "Oscar" for her work in this movie.

This movie doesn't pull any punches, it shows life as it is without hiding behind a false morality. I can only hope that movies in the US begin to grow up to adulthood and treat issues in an adult manner.

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14 out of 16 people found the following review useful:

A must see

Author: Merely from Brocktroit, Massatucky
20 February 1999

A very in-depth and well acted story that plays like a book that you absolutely cannot put down. Originally released in more than one part, which effectively and literally kept you hanging. If you want to be completely and utterly enthralled and swept up in a story that promises to deliver, and does, then this is a MUST SEE!

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7 out of 7 people found the following review useful:

This is great television

Author: pekinman from Illinois
26 January 2005

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

Years ago, when I was still watching TV, I taped 'A Dark Adapted Eye'. Over the passing years I have returned to it over and over with increasing pleasure, it does not lose any of its extraordinary power to intrigue and move.

What a wonderful script! Even with a cast less gifted than this superb group shown here it would still have been a fascinating event. This appeared on 'Mystery' but I'm not sure if it is a mystery so much as it is a Greek tragedy set in modern clothing, for the 1940s through early '70s that is.

Tim Fywell and his team have done such a superb job that I never for one moment thought about the fact that I was asked to believe I was back in WW2 England, it was absolutely real in this instance, set in the peaceful Sussex countryside mostly as well as Oxford, London and at the end Venice, Italy.

A spoiler would occur if I were to comment on any of the action so I won't, but will be content to shower dewdrops on the cast. Helena Bonham-Carter has done nothing better, and that is saying a great deal, a very gifted actress. Having said that I was blown away by Celia Imrie. She will probably be best remembered as Lady Gertrude, Countess of Groan in Gormenghast, a role full of menace, humor and bizarre eccentricity. She was also a fine comedian in an episode of 'Absolutely Fabulous'. In 'A Dark Adapted Eye' she has opportunity show the gamut of her huge range, from wacko control-freak to dry humor to great tragedy. Imrie throws herself with abandon into this very difficult role and touches the heart and mind deeply.

The whole cast is excellent, notably Polly Adams, as the half-sister to Vera (Imrie), Eden (a beautiful and bitchy Sophie Ward), and their brother John (Robin Ellis). The young actors playing some of the characters as children are also very good, nothing twee or obnoxiously precocious about any of them.

'A Dark Adapted Eye' is what you'd call a "heavy" film in that it makes you think, you have to pay attention and be patient, that's what mysteries are all about anyway. The ultimate meaning of the story at first seems ambiguous but upon further thought and viewings it comes into clearer focus and is all the more powerful.

The photography is wonderful, nothing over-done or over-colored, just natural and beautiful, and the score is fabulous.

I will never understand why American companies can't, or won't, make television like this; why we are so addicted to shallow flap doodle, sex, vulgarity and stupidness.

I don't know how the BBC is doing these days as I have given up on television altogether, cable being ridiculously expensive given the crap they offer, but when 'A Dark Adaped Eye' was made they hearkened back to their glory days of 'Brideshead Revisited', 'I Claudius', 'Poldark', 'The Jewel in the Crown' and the many others that poured out of various studios in England in the 70s and 80s.

If you love quality film-making then don't miss this wonderful work of art, TV or no TV. It's out on DVD now and I've just ordered it to replace my worn out home-made video.

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7 out of 9 people found the following review useful:

Based on the True Story of Vera Hilyard, last woman executed in England

Author: richard.fuller1
9 September 2001

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

When I saw this on tape, I immediately ordered it and have it in my collection. I had seen it earlier and was overwhelmed by it. Contains Spoilers! Two sisters. Vera and Eden. Loyally devoted to each other.

One child.

These were the central elements for a young girl named Faith (Helena Bonham Carter) to work with who watched, as did the rest of the family, as suddenly deception and betrayal turned into lies and finally in the end, murder.

Thinking she had put all these events behind her, Faith learns that a missing baby that poor Vera was suspected of doing in was actually the victim of another person. From there, she begins to investigate what may have happened between the sisters, including what she witnessed with her own eyes.

There is a big chunk missing from Eden's history and this is the only glitch, but Vera's tragic tale and finding happiness at last only to have it shattered by Eden's sudden claim is the real focus of the story. And then we learn how much was visible to the adults around the sisters, such as Faith's parents and another older half-sister, Vranni, I believe, who is present that horrible tragic day in the nursery. Helena Bonham Carter is compelling as Faith, who doesn't want to believe what has happened and gradually comes to understand what she can that did happen. Rachel Ward as Eden is pristine, elegant and beautiful; as devoted and worshipful at her slightly erratic sister Vera's feet as Vera is to her.

But the star is Celia Imrie as Vera. A well-meaning person who seems to only get pain and tries so hard to keep everything well. The sisters keep the secret they share so well-guarded no one ever suspects until it is too late. With each tear she sheds, with each plead she gives to Eden, you will be left wondering too what is going on, until . . . !

We only get a glimpse of Eden's feelings when Vera is thrown from the car and that last look on her face in the nursery, again this keeps all the focus on Vera and Imrie manages to hold it well.

In the end, the only ones left to salvage what went wrong are Bonham-Carter and the grown up baby, Jamie, as well as Vera's older son, the vulgar, despicable, maddening creature, Francis. And believe it or not, it is Francis who manages to bring it all full-circle and essentially provide some sort of happy ending to all the madness, leaving Faith to ponder what she would do if someone tried to do to her what happened to Vera. And all we hear is her baby's soft breathing on her shoulder.

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4 out of 5 people found the following review useful:

Really good movie that was made for TV

Author: sherrymandalay from United States
22 November 2009

It is really really good- would like to know where I can buy or rent it. Even when I started figuring out what was going on, I still had to see how it ended up. I didn't guess the ending entirely. It is definitely worth the time. I think that it is better than Atonement, and that Bonham Carter did an outstanding job with her role. I don't want to tell anything about the movie and I am just trying to get in the minimum 10 lines. I couldn't remember what the title of the movie was so I went to the Masterpiece Theatre website and saw all of these other titles that reminded me of more really great movies. If anyone knows where I can buy some of the older ones, please leave me a msg. I especially would like to watch "To Play the King" again, and "The Politician's Wife"- the show that is on CBS is based in part on that movie, I think.

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1 out of 1 people found the following review useful:

Why did Aunt Vera kill her 'perfect' sister?

Author: Tweekums from United Kingdom
10 April 2016

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

This, the third of three stories written by Ruth Rendell under the nom de plume Barbara Vine to be adapted for television by the BBC, starts with the hanging of Vera Hillyard for the murder of her younger sister Eden. Her guilt is not in doubt but the events that led up to her crime make for an interesting story.

We are introduced to the two sisters when their niece Faith goes to live at their house in rural Suffolk during the war. It quickly becomes apparent that the priggish Vera dotes on her younger sister; far more so than her own son who she seems to dislike. Vera wants another child and later gets pregnant although the time since her husband's last leave means nobody knows who the child's real father is. Meanwhile Eden is travelling around involved in war work. Sometime later Eden gets married to a wealthy man but after a miscarriage she can no longer have children; she does however provide a home to Vera's new son, Jamie, when she is unwell. Later she doesn't want to return him and everybody seems to think the boy would be better with her anyway… leading to the inevitable tragedy.

Anybody who watched the previous two stories, 'A Fatal Inversion' and 'Gallowglass' is likely to have high expectations for this… and I doubt they will be disappointed even though this is quite different; it is set decades ago and the characters are more sympathetic for a start. The story is told in a gradual way that raises more questions before the truths are finally revealed. The cast, which features many well-known actors in fairly early roles, does a great job. Most notable is Celia Imrie's performance as the doomed Vera; she portrays her characters anguish in a believable way that makes the character sympathetic despite the fact that we know she will commit murder. Other fine performances come from a young Helena Bonham Carter, who plays Faith, Sophie Ward who plays Aunt Eden; Steven Mackintosh, who is suitably unpleasant as Vera's older son Francis, and a young Honeysuckle Weeks who plays Faith when she was a bit younger. Overall I'd definitely recommend this.

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