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Jude (1996)



Reviews and Comments

I hate reviewing movies like this. I hate rating them more. It's virtually impossible to approximate the quality of a film I feel simultaneously good and bad about in a single enumerated value.

The good is that Jude, an adaptation of Thomas Hardy's 1895 controversial novel Jude the Obscure, is well-made, well-cast, and well-acted. The story is a tragedy about two people who love each other, live in sin, and are torn apart by an unforgiving society. There's more to it than that, for there's a long psychological road to travel before the two main characters even end up together. But that's the general idea. The stars are Christopher Eccleston and Kate Winslet, and it would be hard to imagine better casting. Both understand the subtleties of their respective characters and successfully pull off these complex roles.

The bad is Jude's statement on social pressures is (1) disturbing at least, and (2) ineffectively backed. With regard to the latter, the emotional support is certainly there -- we want things to work out for the leads and are devastated when tragedy strikes. But who's fault is all of this, anyway? I must step carefully, lest I give too much away. But after watching this film, reflect upon it after distancing yourself from your initial emotional investment in the film. What really caused their troubles? It's simply too convenient to blame society for it, and, for that matter, a great many other things, too.

The problem I have with the film's message itself is its shortsightedness. Is there absolutely nothing greater than the love of two people? Not God, country, family, or honor? The question need not be answered, merely asked. Jude doesn't, dismissing each of these, labeling them and anything else that interferes with the happiness of the leads as evil. I'm not buying.

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