Details

 

Based on the novel by Jean Rhys. Produced in 1993 by New Line and Laughing Kookaburra Productions. Directed by John Duigan (Lawn Dogs). Nat plays Edward Rochester, co-starring Karina Lombard as Antoinette. Filmed on location in Jamaica.

 

Plot Summary

Remember Edward Rochester from Jane Eyre? The one who had a crazy wife locked in the attic? This is the story of the young Edward Rochester and his first wife, Antoinette. The story takes place in 1840's Jamaica. Edward is a second son of a wealthy man, meaning that his older brother gets the estate. So Edward is shipped off to Jamaica to marry an heiress of mixed European blood. The first part of the movie has Edward and his new bride in a passionate heat. But soon Edward begins to feel lost and isolated in the strange world of the Jamaicans. He gets letters from someone claiming to be Antoinette's black half-brother telling him that Antoinette's mother was insane and a whore. Edward feels that he's been sold 'bad goods' in the arranged marriage and becomes suspicious and withdrawn. Antoinette's un-English emotional response to his coldness only makes things worse. Finally, Edward becomes both the racist Colonist prig and the misogynist husband his culture bred him to be, turning Antoinette's dark fate into a mirror of her mother's.

General Review

 

This is a gorgeous film and the screenplay is more intricate than it first appears. As a novel, this concept was brilliant, but much of the drama inherent in the story is psychological - the story of two people's interior motivations and demons. It's difficult to bring that across on screen but the screenplay, and the actors, do a commendable job. On one level this film is an erotic romance set in a tropical climate. On another, it's a story about oppression and slavery - in this case, the complete lack of rights for women of the time, and of the mindset of the upright British Colonist. The story also weaves interesting symbolism throughout the tale, from the mirroring of Antoinette's fate and her mother's, to the grasping seaweed of the Sargasso Sea, to the suggestively overripe fruit the Jamaicans are always peeling. A good film to rent on a winter's night.

Nat Review

If you like Nathaniel Parker, this film is a goldmine. This is the most sensual role he's ever had, and he's truly beautiful on screen. And he's on screen a lot. This film is like Body Heat or Nine 1/2 Weeks and starring NP. That's enough of a reason to watch it right there. But it's also something of a quintessential character role for Nat. He does period pieces very well, and this film combines a languorous physicality/eroticism with a stiff-necked Britishness and deeply rooted propriety. That combination is difficult to imagine anyone else pulling off, yet it fits Nat perfectly. His transformation into a real prig by the end of the film is not sympathetic - not at all, but he makes it deeply believable, almost inevitable.

Status

Out on DVD in the USA

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