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A stonemason steadfastly pursues a cousin he loves. However their love is troubled as he is married to a woman who tricked him into marriage and she is married to a man she does not love.Written by
John Sacksteder <email@example.com>
An imperfect adaptation but powerful film in its own right
This is not a film for Hardy purists, nor is it for the faint-hearted. No two-hour adaptation could do complete justice to Hardy's final work, and many of the themes of religion, education and society are pared down in favour of the tragic central relationship between the eponymous Jude and his cousin Sue.
Eccleston and the then up-and-coming Winslet are superb as the on-off couple, lifting the film despite some patchy directing. The passage of time and emotion is dealt with heavy-handedly (albeit faithfully) by Winterbottom, but this is in contrast to some beautiful and touching set-pieces. This is where the film excels, especially in the bold decision to cut the final stage of their relationship in favour of a powerfully bleak ending in which the audience, along with Jude, is left with little closure.
No happy endings here, then, and those of fragile stock should be warned that, despite being visually underplayed, the pivotal scene is played with a brutal tragedy which makes it no less shocking.
Finally, I feel the score should be given special mention: this was Adrian Johnston's first major work but it succeeds as an evocation of tenderness, piety and sorrow, especially in the final two scenes of the film.
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