When it's over, the story of Tess remains tragic no matter how updated a director may make it. So far, I've seen two versions of this classic story of love and loss, and this version is a bit livelier in costume and landscape compared to the 1998 version (also from the UK). Thomas Hardy's timeless tragedy about a young girl named Tess Derbeyfield played by Gemma Arterton, who becomes a victim of circumstance in 19th century England, is so heartbreaking that one can't help but be drawn into the story and all its flawed characters. This four hour film from BBC was filmed completely in 35mm (rare in the age of high definition), which gives the landscape a sense of grandness as well as a sense of loneliness and despair. The landscape becomes a character in the story as we follow Tess on her journey from an innocent country girl to a courtesan in a span of several years. She lives through seduction, rape, betrayal, motherhood, marriage, and abandonment, and yet, remains remarkably strong willed and independent. I think Arterton did a wonderful job portraying this very complex character by molding Tess into a character we can relate to, sympathize with, and ultimately fall in love with.
My rating: 3.5 out of 5