Set in Victorian London, Gwendolen Harleth is drawn to Daniel Deronda, a selfless and intelligent gentleman of unknown parentage, but her own desperate need for financial security may destroy her chance at happiness.
The daughter of a country doctor copes with an unwanted stepmother, an impetuous stepsister, burdensome secrets, the town gossips, and the tug on her own heartstrings for a man who thinks of her only as a friend.
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Jonny Lee Miller
It is across the roulette table that Gwendolen Harleth first locks eyes with the enigmatic Daniel Deronda. Gwendolen is beautiful, vivacious, and a gambler, but desperate for financial security; something that possessive Henleigh Grandcourt would be able to provide for her. Daniel is the adopted son of an aristocratic, but doubtful of his own identity. He pours his energy into selflessly helping his friends, including poor Jewish singer Mirah Lapidoth. As Gwendolen's situation becomes dire, and Daniel seeks to uncover the mystery surrounding his own birth, their lives become intertwined... Written by
Excellent adaptation despite the slight departure from the book
If you're familiar with George Eliot and have read her books, you'll most likely enjoy this adaptation.
But if you're a George Eliot purist, you may be dismayed by the film's romanticization of Daniel & Gwendolyn's relationship. I personally was okay with it and found it a forgivable artistic liberty, as it was handled delicately and tastefully and did not detract from the heart of the story. In fact, I liked the adapted screenplay for its restraint.
If you're a Jane Austen fan but not familiar with Eliot's work, you might find this story lacking in wit compared to Austen's stories, or just too glum. But George Eliot herself was a very different woman from Austen. The Jewish subplot--something that is also present in Eliot's more famous 'Middlemarch'--is enough to make the two authors different, but the sociopolitical depth and soberness of Eliot's work also sets them apart.
The casting was terrific all around (including the magnificently aging Greta Scacchi), and the costumes & scenery were perfect.
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