An American girl inherits a fortune and falls into a misguided relationship with a gentleman confidence artist whose true nature, including a barbed and covetous disposition, turns her life into a nightmare.
Actually taking place in the middle of the original Thorn Birds miniseries, which chronicled the love affair of Meggie Cleary and Fr. Ralph de Bricassart from 1920 to 1962, this two-part ... See full summary »
Kevin James Dobson
The story of Louis XIV of France and his attempts to keep his identical twin brother Philippe imprisoned away from sight and knowledge of the public, and Philippe's rescue by the aging ... See full summary »
It's 1649: Mazarin hires the impoverished D'Artagnan to find the other musketeers: Cromwell has overthrown the English king, so Mazarin fears revolt, particularly from the popular Beaufort.... See full summary »
This mini series covers 60 years in the lives of the Cleary family, brought from New Zealand to Australia to run their aunt Mary Carson's ranch. The story centers on their daughter, Meggie,... See full summary »
Shot in a basic TV soap opera style, this adaptation of James' novel has some definite advantages over Jane Campion's misguided film version. For one thing, the BBC's 4-hour running time allows for more of the novel to make it onto the screen, without boredom ever rearing it's ugly head. Also, the character of Isabel emerges as something more than a feminist-style victim here, which is truer to James' intent. This Isabel is responsible for her mistakes and is willing to acknowledge it. And the characters of Ralph, Lord Warburton, and Gilbert have more depth.
Unfortunately, the direction is rather stilted in this version, and the performances are variable. Susannah Neve plays most all her scenes as Isabel in exactly the same forthright, unshaded way, which becomes very wearisome after a while. And her manner as an actress misses the character's vulnerability - it's hard to believe this Isabel could be bullied by anyone, including Gilbert Osmond. But she does command your attention when necessary.
Best are Edward Fox as Warburton, Beatrix Lehmann and Alan Gifford as her Aunt and Uncle, and the marvelous Kathleen Byron (remember her as the mad nun in "Black Narcissus"?) who easily steals every scene she's in as the Countess Gemini. Richard Chamberlain is charming and intelligent (though never moving) as Ralph, even though you never really believe he's all that sickly. James Maxwell does well enough by Osmond (and is a big improvement over the reptilian John Malkovich in the film).
Rachel Gurney as Madame Merle is very arch and obvious in a role Barbara Hershey later played so beautifully. At the bottom are Sarah Brackett, whose Henrietta Stackpole is worthy of a college play, and Ed Bishop who is a very wooden Caspar Goodwood.
If you're looking for a reasonable dramatic adaptation of James' dense novel, this will do well enough until something better comes along.
3 of 4 people found this review helpful.
Was this review helpful to you?