Details

Produced in 1994 by Warner Sisters production company for Carlton TV (UK), filmed in England, directed by Moira Armstrong, based on the novel by Joanna Trollope. Nat plays Martin Jordan. Co-starring Sophie Ward, Kerry Fox, Claire Bloom, Jeremy Northam.

 

 

 

 


Plot Summary

Martin and Alice (Sophie Ward) move to their dream home in a small English village. He's an aspiring lawyer and a seemingly attentive husband and father from a pretentious family. She's a full-time mother to three children suffering from a bad case of the blues. One cause might be Martin's mother, the famous gardener Cecily Jordan, who is a control freak out to run every aspect of incompetent little Alice's life -- hence the move away from dear mom-in-law. In their new home, the Jordans are quickly invited to the local nobility's estate for a dinner party (the wealthy Lord and Lady Unwin) where they meet the rich prodigal daughter, Clodagh (Kerry Fox). Clodagh attaches herself to the couple like a clinging vine, spending most of her days at their home helping with the children. But is she really after Martin, as everyone assumes . . . or has Alice caught her eye?

General Review

This is a better-than-average script with surprising depth. At first, one suspects the plot is doomed to be trite - a small village is scandalized by an affair in its midst, but the twist is that it's not the local scarlet woman and the husband but the woman and the wife. (Ah!, I hear you all mutter appreciatively). What raises the script above the schmaltz is strong characterization and a surprisingly hard-hitting conclusion. Martin's mother is perfectly terrifying as the Martha Stewartish gorgon. Martin is blind to anything that doesn't fit his picture of the world. He's a devoted husband and father, helping with the kiddies, patient with Alice's moodiness, and yet he's as shallow as a pan of water. Ward as Alice is lovely, exuding an earthy maternal quality and a frail, not-of-this-world detachment.

Clodagh, the interloper, is both charming and obnoxious in large doses, almost as pushy as the mother-in-law in her own way. She's at as much of a loss as the rest of these characters - thinking she is being driven by love when actually she's playing immature games with people's lives. The other great strength of this screenplay is that we don't just get the titillation and tension of a blossoming seduction. We also get the side you rarely see - the real devastation and aftermath when the pair are found out, the shattered lives and terrible pain of a family's disintegration. There are some quite insightful elements - for example, Martin tries to bed Clodagh early on yet can't forgive his wife's affair with her, and everyone in the village assumes Martin and Clodagh are "doing it" all the time it's perfectly obvious that Clodagh and Alice are spending every waking moment together. Overall, a very well-written and well-acted story of love and betrayal.

Nat Review

The character of Martin Jordan is a difficult one to play -- handsome, with a beautiful wife - the man with it all, yet hopelessly clueless and simplistic. Nat does a tremendous job, no mean feat when you consider that he has to share the screen with three very strong female characters and actresses (Bloom, Fox, Ward). He's the perfect foil in the mix. This is also a rare modern-day role for Nat and a sexy one as well. Not one to be missed, which means you have to get busy - see Status below.

Trivia

Nat appears in this film with two old screen-mates, Jeremy Northam (Piece of Cake) and Linda Bassett, who plays the housekeeper, (Far from the Madding Crowd). Sophie Ward has apparently 'come out' as a lesbian in the British press, making this film something of a curiosity.Nat co-teamed with Sophie later for BBC's Land Girls. Again their "marriage" wasn't an ideal one...

Status

The movie is out on DVD 

 

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