The book on which this film is based is an extraordinary read. I had fairly expectations for this small screen adaptation and sadly, it's left quite a bitter taste in my mouth. Disappointing to say the least.
This film falls apart thanks to its woeful cast, with wooden dialog and unconvincing characterizations abound. Perhaps the only faces you will recognize belong to seasoned actors Sam Neil and John Howard, who each give fairly solid performances in their supporting roles (emphasis on the word SUPPORTING). The main cast? The people whose shoulders the entire film rests upon? Newcomer Leeanna Walsman in the title role of Jessica, tries to bring the ballsy young woman to life but for the most part crashes and burns in an explosion of poor acting. Lisa Harrow and Megan Dorman play the evil, manipulative Hester and Meg Bergman, but both highly incapable of eliciting any such belief in their roles. Oliver Ackland as Jack Thomas, the object of Jessica and Meg's affections, is simply a pretty face with very little substance and/or depth, hardly worth mentioning.
So what is left? Visually, Jessica contains some slick cinematography that brings the era to life perfectly. But pretty pictures doth not a good movie make. Aurally, the soundtrack becomes very repetitive, containing little variation from the sombre piano riff and a moping, depressive violin.
I know, 9 times out of 10 a film adaptation is never going to exceed the written material. But with such great material as its basis this film could have been something wonderful. That and the addition of a much better cast and a new music man... Bad, bad, bad.
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