The Woodlanders review

This dose of Thomas Hardy-spawned angst tells the tale of timber merchant's daughter Grace (Emily Woolf), who has to put up with a philandering, well-to-do husband because the divorce laws won't free her to marry impoverished woodsman Giles (swarthy Rufus Sewell). But, although David Rudkin's screenplay boasts some passionate dialogue, its attempts to haunt the audience with bleak social criticism are thwarted by the performances. Sewell's watery-eyed turn as Giles is passable, but Woolf lacks the strength and on-screen presence to carry the female lead. However, Phil Agland's eminent directing sheds a slim ray of hope: all the scenes are thoughtfully constructed, with particular attention being paid to stunning shots of the barren landscape. But, pretty visuals aside, The Woodlanders is a tedious, charmless ordeal.

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