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This movie has some idyllic scenes of seaside and countryside,
overflowing with transcendent joy and unspeakable happiness. Scenes of
love and romance are very heartwarming. And scenes of grave hardships,
death, accusation, and brutality, are very depressing. But the
combination of the two together gives this film a special magical
contrast of emotion and circumstance seldom seen in most cinema. Main
character Emily Kennedy -- poor, young, dependent, and vulnerable --
yet stunningly beautiful and naive -- suffers loss and betrayal. Yet
she retains her integrity, her inner beauty, and her faith in
human-kind to an admirable degree. By the end of the third and final 45
minute segment, she is able to accept a marriage proposal from an
honest, sincere, and loving benefactor, despite his burden of a
This is no ordinary movie, but moves from dramatic highs and lows, joys and sorrows, hardships and luxuries, peaks and valleys, that are mind-bending enough to make any ordinary young lady lose hope. But not dear Emily. The movie is punctuated with lovely melodies of Irish whistle preludes and postludes. There are moments of intensely romantic surprise, with charming instances of reverie and dreaming. I loved each of the 3 episodes, each one quite different. The 3 male lead characters are very vivid, very different. The female lead role of Emily Kennedy is played gorgeously by lovely and remarkable actress, Gillian Kearney. The romantic and dramatic acting is beautifully well done by each actor throughout. Of all films based on the writings of Catherine Cookson, this film is my top-ranked all-time favorite.
I love all the Catherine Cookson novel miniseries films, but I do think this one is my favorite followed by The Wingless Bird. I thought Kearney, Stevenson, and Purefoy were all very credible in their parts. James Purefoy was as handsome as I've ever seen him look in this film, and the costumes suited his looks perfectly. I am dumbfounded why Mr. Purefoy has not been cast in some more well known projects.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
This Cookson melodrama was marginally more bearable than many I have seen due to the presence of Gillian Kearney, who plays our heroine, Emily. She was adorable. Unfortunately, her character puts up with way too much from her abusive lover who beats her, steals from her, cheats on her, refuses to marry her, lies to her, etc. Why? Why? Why? As is far too usual in a Cookson pot-boiler, this farmer, who married for money, and then was cut out of any rights to his dead wife's property, starts off as a really good guy. Luckily, the real good guy turns up in the last 45 minutes, cleverly disguised as a questionable sort, being, as he is, an ex-con, imprisoned for murder in America and the first and only true husband of Emily's dead employer and our farmer's dead wife. Cookson's heroines are just too Thomas Hardy for me. A little buffeting by fate is fine, to get things going, but not all the way through the whole dang story without relief or a little self- determination.
"The Tide of Life" is a 3x45 minute TV period miniseries (circa late 1800's) based on the novel by prolific authoress Catherine Cookson. The film follows the life and loves of the winsome, dutiful, hard-working, and ever honest button-cute housekeeper Emily (Gillian Kearney) as she strives to carve a life for herself from the farms and villages of rural coastal NE England. As watch Emily overcome one hardship after another in her quest for happiness, her dauntless and earnest approach to life always serving her well, this melodramatic tale passes quickly through time skimming over details and leaving many characters under-developed as though the entire novel was crammed into 3 hours giving it a rushed feel with no lingering in the moment. "The Tide of Life" is not the best of the Victorian TV dramas coming out of the UK and pales before the likes of "The Forsyte Saga" or "The Mayor of Casterbridge". Nonetheless, it should be an enjoyable watch for distaff viewers into Victorian drama. (B)
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