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The best kept secret in film history?
egilbl-29 March 2001
This film made a deep impact in me when I saw it on TV some years ago. That it seems to be completely unrecognized is a puzzle to me. Maybe it's got something to do with it's lacking of humor, which so often characterize British films dealing with tragic issues. I will recommend this film highly to anyone who's comfortable with a movie that stirs other emotions than laughter and thrill...
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Hell can Exist in the most Heavenly of Places
crossrad26 December 2009
Having spent some time myself beneath, and also flying in, the vast skies of East Anglia, I can confirm that this film has captured the setting faithfully. Not just the stunning visual panoramas of vast open fields, but the almost medieval relationship which still exists between landowner and farm labourer. The characters are typical of the landscape but not stereotypical - in fact they are presented with considerable depth and there are some surprises. The overriding theme seems to be of a rural way of life under attack almost to extinction. A remote area it may be, but modern attitudes to sex and the environment must reach there eventually. But the ability of the characters to respond to these issues is severely limited by the harsh economic realities of life. It seems that they are living in a straitjacket so unbearable that their only escape is to retreat into themselves so that they don't communicate. At times I found myself trying to will one of the Crosses to open up and meet Bernard half way when he tries to talk to them.

Most people in the UK struggle to afford a home large enough for themselves and their possessions, so it is something of a shock to see the Cross family who can only afford to sparsely furnish their tied cottage. This film has stunning cinematography, not only outside, but in scenes inside the Cross's home, where natural evening light and artificial light are mixed to link up the inside and outside. For many of us the idea of all this space both inside and out seems like heaven, but this film shows us how hell can exist in the most heavenly of surroundings.

I think this film succeeds on many levels, with plot twists which are unexpected yet are deeply rooted and consistent with the underlying theme. It is structured as strictly linear narrative which allows the viewer to become completely absorbed in the story (no bits of text coming up saying "Six Months Earlier" for example). The acting is very realistic, and it is filmed in a very professional and watchable style. Still very relevant, I agree with other commentators that this film should have had more exposure. Can we have another viewing on TV please? Or even a DVD?
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Overly somber tale of death and tragedy in a beautiful, but depressing setting
Mark Smith7 June 2007
Warning: Spoilers
The information about the movie on the TV guide read, "A farming community living near a U.S. missile base suffers the effects of environmental pollution." It is true there are a few scenes of military jets that land on a nearby base and are seen in the air. And there are some dead fish floating in a pond. But all that is a backdrop for the poor relationships and decisions that are everywhere in this move. Jen Cross is a 15 year old who is angry with the way things are and decides to use young Raif sexually as a means of escape. Her parents fight constantly, he is a poor tenant farmer, and she is the homemaker, but it is not much of a home. The mother is cross with the kids and more cross with the husband. The owner of the property is a shallow shell of a man, who fires Jen's father when he speaks up that the pesticide the owner has been using is polluting and killing the fish. The problem there is that it is probably the military base is the polluter. The owner hires the mother as a cleaning lady, which further infuriates and saddens the father. The father commits suicide in a way that his body is never found. There are other characters in the movie, Raif's mother, the cleaning staff of the Rector, is ill and dies, there is just a remote inference that the pollution caused the illness. The Rector is an ineffective, lonely man himself. The movie is completely a tragedy, and there appears little, if any, hope anywhere in the movie. Even in the end when Jen strikes out on her own, the move may be trying to present this as a hopeful act, but the mood is so somber by now that I, for one, wasn't encouraged, she appears as just another person who is running away. The setting is beautiful, there are some meager attempts that show a little compassion, a little love, but it is not enough. If you want to commiserate on misery, or just like tragic movies, you might like this. But I for one see the world where there is invariably sun and rain everywhere. There are good times and bad times, and even in mostly tragic circumstances, there are hopeful things to cling to, which this movie seems to argue against. I can't recommend it.
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